Monday, August 16, 2010

Lythrum Asylum

I noticed that a gardening neighbor has recently planted some purple loosestrife in her front yard. Again, the cheshire cat sits smiling at me. Anyone I've mentioned it to has asked if I have confronted her about it. Of course not. I'm not that confrontational, and I like these neighbors -they garden! But it is also that I am more interested in the problem perplexus than just snootily ratting out my neighbors.

I do wonder where she got it. I like to imagine she pulled it from the roadside on a trip upstate, but isn't it more likely she purchased it or got it from a friend? Since last year, the sale of Lythrum salicaria, or Purple Loosestrife, has been banned in two of the 4 counties of Long Island -Nassau and Suffolk. Why only them? Maybe because these areas have not seen much of an invasion yet and feel that it is still possible to protect ecosystems from our magenta menace. Yet, it is here in the city and in Suffolk and Nassau that I have most frequently seen purple loosestrife in private and public gardens. And now in my neighbor's.

It surely looks good in the landscape right now. Her one plant does what my New England Blazing Star can't seem to do on its own -delicately fire magenta spires through the air. On the other hand, this siren should be seen for what it is.

"Then with heavy heart I [Odysseus] spoke to my comrades thus : `Friends it is not right that only one man, or only two, should know the divine decrees that Lady Kirke has uttered to me. I will tell you of them, so that in full knowledge we may die or in full knowledge escape, it may be, from death and doom. Her first command was to shun the Seirenes--their enchanting notes, their flowery meadow. I alone was to hear their song, she said. You for your part must bind me with galling ropes as I stand upright against the mast-stay, with the rope-ends tied to the mast itself; then I shall stay there immovably. And if I beg and beseech you to set me free, you must bind me hard with more ropes again.’

The Odyssey, Homer


  1. Instead of being confrontational, or rattingher out, why don't you try having a nice conversation with te lady? Ask her where she got the flowers. Mention your state's laws concerning purple loosstrife, if your state has any. Change the subject to her other lovely flowers if she seems put off.

  2. Michelle,

    The laws are county, and don't ban planting -only selling. Our city has planted them. It's possible to have the conversation, I just haven't yet. I think I am suggesting here that I am more curious about my resolve in the matter than whether or not she ought to be planting it. I suspect she has no idea about it, and it is good looking. Although, it would be very interesting if she knows and simply must have it anyway. So I shall ask her about it without any sense of confrontation.

  3. That's tricky, ain't it? It's all over Massachusetts.


If I do not respond to your comment right away, it is only because I am busy pulling out buckthorn, creeping charlie, and garlic mustard...