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Green Acre #3: Irresistible Invasives

This is NOT Stephanie Cavanaugh's wisteria. This one has for decades graced the garden wall of the Georgetown home of the late Senator Claiborne Pell.

This is NOT Stephanie Cavanaugh’s wisteria. This one has for decades graced the garden wall of the Georgetown home of the late Senator Claiborne Pell. / MyLittleBird photo.

IT’S MID-MORNING AND I’m reading the review of last night’s “Dancing With the Stars” on the Entertainment Weekly website, which doesn’t mean I have nothing to do, it means I have nothing I care to do. I’m bored out of my skull.

And then the reviewer, who is engaging enough to keep me reading despite my near zero
interest in a show that I don’t even watch, says: We all have different voices in our heads.

Which led me directly back inside my skull because this is just what I was thinking yesterday when I returned from the market, having forgotten once again to buy ham for a sandwich.

Instead, I was standing at the counter slapping cream cheese on Triscuits and this voice pops up, Why don’t you make some? And some other irrational part of my being slapped me upside the head and replied, Great idea! Make ham!

Because that’s what I do. Make things. Or always assume I can, which prevents me from buying things, which I suppose is good.

Why don’t you make some? Ham. Uh-huh. And this would begin with growing a pig?

That’s a long way to go for a ham sandwich.

But that’s the kind of thing these odd parts of my brain say, even as the more rational part (there’s only one of these) purses its lips and lectures: Speaking of gardens, isn’t it time you did something out there?

So I’ll now mention that I intend to borrow Paige’s hedge clipper in the very near future and fully intend to hand it to The Prince and charge him with shearing back the honeysuckle, white flower vine and the blasted wisteria which—after 33 years—yields maybe 10 flowers each spring and then flings itself about the garden, throwing up tangled dreadlocks every which-where and threatening to strangle the climbing roses.

I will hand him the hedge clipper and announce that I am doing so because I have developed a crippling strain in a muscle in my left shoulder and mustn’t aggravate it. And then I will excuse myself to lie down for a bit. I will do all of this because I require someone to blame when things go wrong, as most assuredly they will, and he’s always willing and handy. Bless him.

This is Plan B.

Plan A was devised several weeks ago, when I was sitting on the back porch smoking and drinking coffee in a black T-shirt with bleach splotches down the front, and noticing that the wisteria had crept 30 feet from the garage roof along the fence and had unfurled many skinny arms that were groping their way across the alley, threatening the neighbors. One of my voices remarked, in a very cheery, chatty fashion, as if we were dressed in pretty cotton dresses and having tea together, along with little watercress sandwiches with the crusts cut off,  that it might be nice to convince the neighbors that a wisteria arch across the alley would be a lovely thing to have.

And the not-so-pretty me replied: A by-product of this would be, of course, that I could engage various other bodies in the tangling and disentangling of the stuff, and have a whole new stable of people to blame for what goes wrong in my garden.

And the me’s giggled and toasted ourselves and then my Prince went forth with the big clipper and slashed it all down and took it to the dump.

—Stephanie Cavanaugh

Next week in Green Acre, Gardener Cavanaugh has so much more to say about wisteria. Stephanie is currently at work on a book about life in a small city garden.


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