Posted by: Didapper PJ23 SEP 2010
When I was a newly registered pharmacist, my wife and I bought a house on the edge of London, not far from my first pharmacy management job. Our subsequent careers kept us in the capital, and we have lived in the same house ever since. Indeed, last week we celebrated 40 years there.
Soon after we moved in, I planted a tiny pampas grass specimen (Cortaderia selloana) in the middle of the front lawn. It matured to produce a pleasing display of feathery plumes every autumn. However, the first wintry gales would flatten the flower stalks and from then until the following autumn the plant would just be an ever-broadening thicket of scratchy-edged leaves.
Eventually the plant grew too large and we decided to get rid of it. But this did not prove easy. We tried burning it to the ground, but this just seemed to make it regrow even more vigorously.
And when we commissioned a garden expert to remove it, he cut a deep, wide trench all round it but then failed to uproot it and sneaked off leaving the garden looking worse than ever. (He also cheekily sent us a bill for the pesky plant’s alleged removal.)
So it was back to square one. A search of gardening websites at first led only to dispiriting claims that the plant is almost impossible to eradicate. But then I found a couple of sites suggesting that if you cut it right down to ground level, it will be so traumatised that it will not recover.
So I burned it again, then hacked and sawed at it until it was level with the surrounding lawn. And guess what? Not a single shoot grew again and I was able to oversow the area with lawn grass seed without even having to grub out any of the roots.
Although my internet search eventually proved fruitful, one aspect of it was rather mortifying. During the search I came across several websites suggesting that you can recognise a house where “swingers” live by the pampas grass growing in the front lawn.
Our home sits on a busy road, and I have no idea how many passers-by have gained a misleading impression of our lifestyle over the course of the past four decades.