Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Pesky Interlopers

When ornamental weeds run amok, watch out.

Sea Ranch, CA is an tranquil and groundbreaking planned community about 70 miles north of San Francisco. It’s been developing over the past 30-plus years. It’s noted for small clusters of houses with various views of the Pacific ocean and idyllic meadows between each cluster of houses. Of the 1200 homes built, the fulltime number of residents is 280 people - according to the sign on Highway #1. (I spent Thanksgiving week there in a rental house.)

The intent of the design is to have nothing but meadows (and perhaps a few low-growing native shrubs) outside the small fenced enclosures. Some homeowners have a handful of exotic plantings next to their homes.

Yet, I found two places where the ornamental, exotic Cape Weed (Arctotheca calendula) was planted outside the home’s walls. (See one planting above.) The word “weed” is the operative word. These plants may bloom a bright yellow most of the year near the coast, but spreading like a weed is their forte. They don’t spread much via seed, but by creeping across the landscape with self-rooting tips – like stolons. I know of a neighbor who started with a small patch of Cape Weed and soon found it covering more than an acre! Now he’s hopeless with regards to eradicating this ornery plant.

It seems to be a hopeless situation. However, if caught very early, it’s possible to eradicate this weed. I’ve seen a neighbor stop this pest in its tracks by layering large sheets of cardboard with a decorative, weed-free mulch. They must remain vigilant as the weed will continue totry and escape the next-door neighbor’s perimeter.

It is one of the most-wanted native habitat destroyers by Native Plant Societies around the state as it slowly chokes out most grasses (not established CA bunch grasses). It has been used as a highway landscaping groundcover. But the two or more lanes of traffic usually stops it in its tracks.

Banish this worrisome weed!

Let me know what you think.

Visit my web site to learn about my new book on drip irrigation and other gardening books.

NOTE: The comments section at the bottom of the post has disappeared. Click on the "___ Comments" button or the title under the "Blog Archives". Thanks, Robert

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