Twisted: A Tale of Two Plants

Twisted: A Tale of Two Plants

We’ve been cold and rainy for a couple days now, but on Saturday I made more garden progress.

We have one horrifying weed that I think of as the spawn of Satan, or as Devil’s Snare (Nod to Harry Potter.) It burrows underground and shows up everywhere. Given enough time and space, it turns into trees, which is disconcerting.

Yellow circles, Devil’s Snare. Purple circle, a sweet milkweed.

Yellow=Devil’s snare.

I’m slowly making progress on clearing it out, but even as I pull out its long tendrils and cut down the tree sproutlings it sends skyward, I feel how tenuous my progress is. It may uproot itself quite easily at times, but I can hear it whispering, “That small piece of root that you left broken off in the ground, I’m sending out twenty shoots from it while you sleep tonight.”

But even as Devil’s Snare sends out its evil shoots, I keep crawling around, gloveless, gently pushing aside baby leaves of begonias to pull out the encroaching weeds.

Begonia from a friend.

Happy plants from friends.

A bit of weeding left to go.

Weeds cleared out.

I also spent time trimming up more bushes in front.


As I expressed in previous posts, I did not care for these four shrubs at the entrance to our sidewalk. Who puts pokey holly bushes next to a path that should be inviting to people?!

So I tried to kill them. I cut them off clear to the ground, covered them in plastic, covered them in mulch. I could have chemically killed them, or ground out their stumps, but stopped short of those efforts.

With my increasing understanding of how to trim appropriately and an appreciation for all things that grow, I looked at these bushes with new appreciation. They are beautiful in their way.

Perky and upright.

They’ve had years of not being trimmed lovingly or well, so it will take some time to discern their best shape, but at least they can breathe and the birds can perch on them.

Then, the fourth bush.

In pulling aside the plastic to work on trimming the last shrub, I paused.


I had twisted and stunted this plant with my attempts to hinder it over the years.

I certainly pull out weeds. I squish mosquitoes. I’ve uprooted and killed plants.

But my general inclination is to let things grow. Plants, pets, insects, humans, they want to live and thrive.

This shrub grew, thrived even, despite my efforts to stop it.

It had grown twisted and entwined, but it grew.

I cut back the plastic that had been in place over the base of the bush, giving easier access to sun and rain and air.

I packed up my shears and stopped working for the night.

I’ve got to sit with this knowledge of what I’ve done for a few days.

For some this wouldn’t be a big deal, but my soul feels bruised knowing that I’ve done this to another living being.

Eventually I’ll head back out, decide how best to support its gradual return to a more typical appearance. I may need to cut it all the way back this year, and nurture it gently for awhile.

It will heal, as most things do, but this feeling of causing harm is a feeling I want to face.

And recognizing my sorrow about this shrub, and my continued devotion to Devil’s Snare eradication; realizing the dichotomy.

Many lessons to be learned in the garden.