Oh, sure. They look cute, their nodding white flowers, crimped and curled at the edges, like fairies’ cloche hats. In May, they shake those little bells, and perfume fills the air. Plus, they’ll grow anywhere, in sun, shade, wet or dry, with minimal attention. What’s not to like?
Grrrrr. Lily of the valley. Convallaria. Muguet de bois. Don’t be deceived by the gentle-sounding names. These are thugs. Velociraptors in pretty-scented sheep’s clothing.
They gallop across light, sandy, root-clogged soil like mine, charging through its fluffy topping of mulch, like the hungry, invasive critters they are.
A neighbour planted a few lily of the valley pips – the sweet name for their growing stem is another deception – in her front yard. A few years later, they’d spread wall to wall. Wall. To. Wall.
I must admit, I’ve been seduced by their positive traits, and have let my lily of the valley run wild. In fall, the floppy leaves on my expanding “patch” always resemble a very bad hair day, mixed metaphors be damned. But the promise of those pretty, perfumed flowers in spring stops me from doing them in.
The sharp blade on this hand weeder ate through surface roots and hooked up the lily of the valley pips where they lurked. I didn’t have to deeply disturb tree roots by digging. And it worked frighteningly well. From one six-by-six foot patch (two-by-two metres) I yanked out nearly half a yard-bag of pips.
No, I didn’t give them away. I’m a good neighbour. And I didn’t compost them. They can’t be trusted in a cool compost pile. Besides, despite my carnage, I have a sneaky feeling that more will pop up to woo me next spring. This time, my heart will be hardened – after I gather a nice bouquet.