I really do have a love affair with weeds, with their beauty, with their many culinary and medicinal uses, with their determination. But lets talk about Bishop’s Weed for a minute and we are talking about determination that is over the top.
I was reminded of this yesterday afternoon, when I spaded up the onion bed, which, over the winter, had taken on in my mind an aspect of pristine readiness for planting, so that I was surprised to see some burgeoning dandelions, but I was really surprised when a shovelful of dirt revealed tangles of white, crispy roots and sprouty tendrils of Bishop’s weed. This bed had been covered with one foot of topsoil two years age. Once again my enemy challenges me and my determination against its own.
The first time I ever noticed Bishop’s weed was about fifty years ago at our house on Richmond Ave. At the time its demeanor seemed fairly gentle and ladylike. It was used, I thought, as a ground cover with pretty white flower similar to Queen Anne’s lace blooming during part of the sumer months. It grew closely on both the north and south sides of the house along the driveways,the a leaf a dark lime green that you can tire of pretty fast. I tired of mine quite a while before I did anything about it, but the children grew, went off on their own affairs and left me alone to check out possibilities for my free time. Since I am by nature optimistic the idea of gardens around the periphery of the house sounded like a good idea, and I set to work, and work and work. I dealt with evil as I encountered the evidence of this seemingly innocuous plant throughout the beds.I managed an effective control only on the north side. Here thee were only about three feet before the driveway cut it off, though when an occasional crack appeared in the pavement a tendril would appear with an opening leaf almost immediately. I could live with that, particularly since a graceful, fragrant mock orange bush thrived there.
It took a while, but that was a battle I won. My husband died, and I moved to another house with Betsy and her family. This is the house. There was room and rock for an interesting garden, even if not the neatest one in the world. There were lots of dandelions, some burdock, colts foot and English daisy and Japanese lantern; it was free of Bishop’s weed. Or was it?
Along with our other household tasks we took on the garden Jim built a tiny pool with goldfish in it as a focal point. And then, one day, as I did some spring cleaning under the barbery hedge, There It Was. I could hardly believe my eyes. Trowel in hand I gried digging among he barberry roots; did the best I could. Over the years some mad horticulturist had introduced a variegated Bishop’s Weed. I tackled it all. Like the obesity epidemic, the more I dug up, the more I found.
When Jim prepared the vegetable garden, he had to cut down a tree and he had to level a piece of the yard. That piece of yard, along the property line on the south waited for just such treatment. I knew that the Bishp’s weed bloomed there, but so did a lot of other unwelcome throw aways from the rest of the yard.
Just fill it in with two feet of top soil.
He has created a beautiful vegetable garden of beds and paths, fenced against the deer and the chickens. A really great, satisfying, piece of work. That’s right, WORK. The summer stretches out before me and I know what I’ll be doing.
Full of Bi