Sunday, November 11, 2012


I have meant for awhile to tidy up the far back corner of my yard.  When R Man and I bought this house 15 years ago, I cleared out all the invasive crap that covered the yard and, faced with a big blank dirt slate and little experience with gardening in California, I started sticking in plants randomly.  My plan: "it'll either live or it won't."  In that particular spot of the garden, I tucked in a couple of shrubby plants, native to Madeira, called Echium.  They've turned into one of the most successful (if you want to call it that) specimens in my erratic efforts.

The original crop.

Cross bred into this.

Maybe a little too successful.  Bear in mind one of its common names is Patterson's Curse because of its aggressive and invasive nature.  But I still like it because it has beautiful  tiny sapphire blue and purple flowers that mass together to make huge clusters up to six feet long on spikes that can be twelve feet tall.  It is a "say something" plant.

And what it says in my yard is "Get out the way, bitch" because those two modest ones I put in all those years ago have cross pollinated with sluttish echiums from all over San Francisco (bees love them) to found a dynasty of shaggy monsters the size of Madonna's ego that have covered a quarter of my open space.  I still appreciate their beautiful big blue blossoms, but enough is enough and I decided to clear them back.  I'm not terribly worried about losing them, I've cleared them out a two or three times in the past and my experience is they will be back flourishing in a couple of years.

Pretty, but trouble.  Isn't that always the way?

So I armed myself with lopers, pruners, a saw and a hatchet I call "The Punisher" and headed off for the back.  This is not dainty Jane Austen lady's gardening, this is more like  Sherman's March to the Sea.  As I was whacking my way through the brush a piece of debris flew up to hit me in the eye and knocked my contact lens right out.  The nerve!

On one of my previous assaults on the echium stronghold, four or five years ago, friends took this little snap which they still think is just the height of hilarity.

"Oh no, you DID NOT just attack me back.  Behold I am peenee, destroyer of Echium fastuosum.  Hear the tread of my boot and know your death, shrubby motherfucker."

And believe me, destroy them I did, having replaced my contacts with my glasses and a resolve to take that patch of Edenic paradise down to the ground.  Which I did.  Take that, bitches.


  1. Good lordy! I've never seen one a big as that before... No Wait! That was a Marrow wasn't it?

    "Peenee the Destroyer" has a nice ring to it though....

    1. Yeah, I've heard that before.

      I'm having tee shirts run up that say "peenee, The Destroyer." Order yours now for Xmas.

  2. Can't wait for next summer, and the sequel "Echium fastuosum - The Revenge". Jx

    1. Did I mention I'm mildly allergic to the fuzz on their stems and leaves? Great.

  3. We gardeners can be so funny; spending hours controlling successful plants and then spending hours nursing unsuccessful ones....

    1. Exactly. Nothing in the middle and certainly rarely sitting back and noticing what we've achieved.


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