What's the story, morning glory?

Our front yard is protected from a busy road by a high hedge of nasty privet, adorned by equally or even more noxious morning glory. Morning glory is a stinker of a weed. It thrives in poor dry soils and can be spread by seed, root section or stem cutting. I know because when I moved in here, three sides of the fence were covered with it. It was growing up at least two sides of the house and came inside in several places more than once. If I'd have known how bad it was, and how I would battle it, I might not have moved in at all.
It was 1989 and I had been living by myself up in West Coburg for a year or so. Living alone was not something I enjoyed as much as I thought I would. Which was a pity because I had just started to make headway on that West Coburg garden, when I decided that I had to move back in closer to the inner city area. Something that I find funny is that in this garden I was leaving, I had actually planted some morning glory seeds I had bought at the Coles supermarket and was training them up the fence. What followed may well have been karmic punishment.

I did the rounds of share house interviews. I wanted a garden and I wanted control. So I was desperate to move into this house when I found it. This house was cheap and roomy, with a certain rustic charm. It was filthy and stuffed with junk but it also had a big yard full of knee high grass with a tree in the middle. And the guy with the lease was OK and thinking of going back to Adelaide soonish. Every morning on the tram to work, I passed the house and just knew I could make it work. I charmed, hustled, and made compromises. I agreed to keep my cat outside. The room and soon enough, the house, became mine (now it's ours but that's another story).
 As it happened, I lost my job several months later. My whole department was retrenched. It was happening every Friday in the city, people going home in taxis with their pink slip and box of personal stuff from their desk. I cared less than most. More time for gardening and a long holiday to Byron Bay and surrounds. It was walking back to the hostel after going to the pictures at Nimbin that I saw my first truly horrifying morning glory infestation. I thought, oh it's the tropics, it will never get that bad at home. I'll be able to get rid of it eventually. No worries.

I spent long hours pulling it from the fences, the house, the collapsing chook shed along the back. The vines and the dried detritus they contained made me itch. As soon as I had cleared one side, then another would have grown up. The vines would run under the house from one side to another. My housemate at the time thought I was mad. It wasn't my house, why should I care? Besides it was pretty. And the garden looked all bare and desolate after I pulled it down. The next door neighbour also had a healthy infestation, for which they blamed us. Of course.

I did get the morning glory under control. Sort off. Then I just gave up. It was all too much for me and the landlord wasn't going to help. Life had become very busy. We had started the cafe. I didn't have time for endless weed control. I kept it off my garden beds and periodically did a big blitz. It always came back.

About this time, I had a housemate John, who was a real hoot. He was older than me, a raffish academic sort who disappeared overseas frequently. We talked frequently of the plants hallucinogenic properties. His best story was about how he ate a packet of seeds and was so out of it that he couldn't remember what happened, so a week or so later he did it again. And still couldn't remember what happened, except for a scratching feeling behind the eyelids. After hearing that, I was never tempted. Not even a little.

G moved in here in 1999. At some point the landlord came to the party. Something to do with a new property manager. Herbicides were used. I'm pretty organic in my approach, as a rule, but this was necessary. The neighbours were required to treat their property. Now we are on to it. Or at least G is on to it. When we see it in the garden, it's pulled up, dug up and thrown away or put in a special noxious weeds compost area. Except for the vine growing on the privet out the front. It kind of looks so lovely against the yellow. If you can forget how evil a weed it is for just a moment. Pretty but evil.


Sheree said...

Oooo that morning glory is nasty stuff. I didn't know any better in my early gardening days and bought a packet of MG seeds, too. Planted them against a fence that really needed some cover and within six months really regretted it.
We're semi-tropical here in California and where we were living, there was no frost. The plants TOOK OVER. They grew in the lawn, they grew over the fence & into the neighbor's yard, they grew into the flower beds....they were making their way into our house to strangle us in bed one night.
I tried and tried to get rid of them. Lots of hand-pulling. Lots of digging. Even tried herbacide. Nothing worked...it always came back.
Know how we finally got rid of the morning glory? We moved! I feel sorry for the people who bought the house after us!

elizabeth said...

I've been reading your blog for a while, but was a bit shy about commenting - but was prompted by my own horror memories of dealing with a backyard taken over by the dreaded morning glory. I remember watching tv one evening and something waving about in the corner catching my eye - the damned vine had snuck thirty feet under the house and inserted itself into my living room.

shula said...

Morning Glory, right up there with Ivy and Potato Jasmine. The battles I've had with these plants are enough to make me think twice about moving into a property that has any of the above. congratulations on an Epic Achievement.
Cafe? Wot Cafe?

Janet said...

Yep, I've had that feeling that the morning glory was going to get me in me sleep.
And welcome Elizabeth, I always love it when new people comment. But I also understand shyness about the whole commenting business.
Shula, yeah, I had a cafe in Fitzroy (with my mum and sister) for about six years in the nineties. It was good and bad, the whole naive "let's start a cafe, without any hospitality experience" scenario...

Holli said...

oooooooooooooohhhhh - there is one morning glory that I've only found on one gardening site. I dusty rose with flowers the size of dinner plates. I would let that infest my brain cells!!
But I have had my mother argue with me about the "lovely weeds" and how they can tear right through your roof and rip out your windows. And I've actually seen it happen. But "la la la" I don't listen.

nutmeg said...

Hi Janet. Long time no read. I've caught up on quite a bit. I am soooo looking forward to turning some of my own fruit into jam and vegetables into chutneys. After some massive works in the backyard we are about to plant. Yipee. Home grown vegies here we come.
Also I loved the previous post - small, wide ranging snippets about your life - love it.