Someone tell me...

Who puts sumac in a garden??? My landscapers, that's who. And at the time, I didn't know anything about plants or gardening and I simply said, "Our house is in the woods... we want our foundation plantings to fit in with the surroundings and I want them easy to care for because I know nothing about taking care of them and don't want to have to be out there all year fussing over them. So please plant easy-care plants."

They put in a lot of plants. Far more than we really needed. For the most part they were things that didn't need a lot of care. For the most part, they are beautiful. Some of them died. This past winter, we lost four rose bushes. I balked when they brought the rose bushes out. "Roses need a lot of care," I said.

"Not these roses," they assured me. And for several years, they thrived with no real input from me, other than pinching off the dead buds and trimming back the stuff that hung over the lawn and caught me when I had to mow (damn thorns). But this was a difficult winter with little snowcover and cold temperatures until late in the game. I guess that's what did them in.

And then there was the sumac. Very natural looking in our forest setting. But also very aggressive. Did I say aggressive? I actually meant barbaric. They planted three (THREE!) sumac in our foundation plantings... one in the front yard and two in the back, rather close together and just behind the back patio. We had this done about five summers ago and last summer I realized they were growing to gigantic proportions and blocking the view of the forest from our windows, blocking the sunlight from our home, blocking the little animals of the forest from access to our yard (heh, just kidding)... So I bought myself a large (sharp) pair of pruning shears (grrrrr), and hacked them back. Waaaaaaay back.

This made the little sumac get even more rapacious. They began to spread their roots far and wide, popping up everywhere. They came up beside each of the surrounding plants, just randomly within the rocks, and all along the retaining wall behind them. It was ridiculous. Something had to be done. So this year? When they shot up to their record twelve foot height in the spring? and spread far and wide before the summer heat had even come to Wisconsin? I got the shears off their nail on the garage wall, and I gutted them. I pulled as many roots free of the rocks as I could, and I bought Roundup weed killer. I poured it on every bit of the roots I could find and sprayed what I could on the small plants that were growing in the rocks to get their roots.

Where am I going with this story? Dad came out and we got the mower and blades going today. We got the grass mowed in record time because of the dry spell of the past week (couldn't mow everything because not everything had grown)... And then? We dug those dead root balls out of the ground. And when I saw how far reaching those roots went within the rocks both over and under the black plastic used for the landscaping? I was reminded of that day earlier this summer when I attacked and killed the little (HAH) sumac plants and discovered those roots.

If you've read along with me this far, You have to be totally bored today and you'll enjoy the ending to my story. :) The day I tugged and pulled those roots and drove myself absolutely crazy in the sun and heat finding how far-reaching they really went, amazed by the shear number of them (I think that heat was getting to me...) I finally grabbed my cell phone and called our house to wake my daughter up, knowing that calling her was a better way to talk to her than banging on her window or going inside...

Her: Hello?
Me: Kel! I've figured it out! I know the secret of the Matrix!
Her: What?
Me: I know the secret of the Matrix!
Her: Oh. My. God. What are you talking about???
Me: The secret of the Matrix!!! I figured it out!
Her: Okay Mother. What is it?
Me: It's sumac!
Me: But you should see these ROOTS!

I swear sometimes she has no sense of humor. Or that she thinks I'm insane. One of the two. But it all came back to me today anyway when Dad and I were pulling up the root balls. Which were totally trapped within the Matrix. Heh.

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