That Horrible Grass

27 06 2010

I’ve never been a grass fan, my imagination concocted a vision of a cottage garden with tall herbs like lemon balm, Eau de Cologne, pineapple sage, and lavender… and through the cobblestone path you’d find pennyroyal, corsican mint, babys tears, and other low herbs winding through the cracks… none of my dream garden features grass, which I see as being pretty useless.

I’ve never been sure whether the idea of having a motor mower is because a man needs a tool to keep the lawn low, or because he fancies his manly new toy.

Over all this time, couldn’t we have simply bred a low growing grass?
We’ve bred other things, surely it’s not that difficult.

Years ago, we had a holiday house in Hervey Road, St. Leonards, Victoria… It was close to the ocean and the soil was not the best for growing anything unless you worked very hard at it. Some trees did grow well, We had two very tall lilly pillys with purple berries which fed the possums who’s nest was at the top… I climbed the tree once and put my
hand in and felt the very soft fur of the babies in there.

We also had the largest poplar in the area, and a local fisherman used to use it as a marker while out at sea… although the tree was very tall it has to be said that we were on a hill too, which made it appear much larger than it actually was.

Dad planted Buffalo grass, which spread nicely and was generally well behaved, and each weekend when we drove there, he’d mow the lawn around the very large area, it appeared larger, compared with the garden at home.

I’m not sure why we called it a holiday home as my parents seemed to do a lot of work while they were there. Mum still did the same stuff that she did at home, and Dad would get suck into mowing and painting. I was about five when we got the place, we’d had another earlier, which was made of brick and had a large fireplace, but I remember very little about it.

I called it “the bees house” after two incidents where a fire was lit in the fireplace and killed two bee hives… all the bees fell out all over our livingroom. I’m not sure why we moved to the new place, thought the bee problem was something that had turned Mum off the place. The name stuck, and everyone referred to it as the bees house after that.

We spent weekends and holidays there, I always had mixed feelings about the place. Mum liked it because the house had better modern conveniences than our home… but it lacked things that I enjoyed and TV reception was a bit iffy there. Channel 0 (now 10) would frustrate Dad who would wriggle the rabbit ears of the portable TV to try and get Hawaii 5-0.

I had a pet bluetongue lizard who lived there, the yard was all fenced in solidly by hardy plank, and there was no way out, so we thought. And Bluey lived quite happy in the garden, coming out when someone called, usually with a banana or something else he or she would like, we were never sure if bluey was male or female.

You know, the outside walls of the house were always dirty, and we didn’t know why till someone pointed out that the spiders which lived in the eaves and which made webbed tunnels were responsible, the walls were dotted with spider manure.

Moths were pretty bad there too, although we enjoyed the wildlife… There were many frogs there, big golden christmas beetles at christmas and once we even had a bandicoot pay us a visit, it burrowed for grubs under the grass… dad didn’t mind and would even leave some food out for it. We did get the odd tiger snake now and then too.

I suppose it’s ok to ramble on in a blog, this way I have no editor apart from myself… but the subject is the grass.

So, Dad was looking at grass at the park near our home, and although he could see the horrible stuff climbed fiercely up fences and crawled over and covered everything, for a period, he believed it was Buffalo grass, and began bringing bits home to grow here.

Mum realised what it was, and would pull it immediately, and chastise my Father for his attempt at planting the rotten stuff “That’s not Buffalo, it’s that bloody awful COOCH! It’ll go everywhere!” But Dad wouldn’t listen, although given the facts, Mum pointed out the grass in the lane, waving a finger at it, growling at my Dad. Once he believed he was right, he’d march stubbornly onwards with his plan.

It came to no good.

Dad grew terribly sick from prostate cancer, Mum and I did our best for him, We took care of him at home and at Hospital. It hit him quickly and eventually took his life, it was a dreadful time which took it’s toll, on my dear Father and Mum and I… who were completely thrashed by the events leading up to his death, and beyond it.

While this happened, cooch grass that Mum failed to spot had grown and spread, much like Dads cancer had, through the garden, and had begun to invade garden beds and even pots, it’s horrible roots grew under the path and came out on the other side and took over everything.

Another thing happened too, a young apricot tree began to die, and Mum thought it had been poisoned for a while, but when I eventually cut it down, I noticed the wire around the trunk and I remembered.

Months before Dad got sick, an episode of Burkes Backyard, a gardening show, aired. and it’s host suggested that if a fruit tree is not fruiting, you can temporarily frighten the tree into fruiting by tying wire tightly around it’s trunk, the tree will think it’s dying and respond by producing fruit. However, the segment warned that you must also remove the wire, or the tree will actually die… Dad had not told us he’d done this, and we had no idea.

I don’t recommend this technique to anyone, as the wire is too easy to forget about… you’re more likely to end up with a dead tree than loads of fruit, so forget about it.

Years earlier, I had grown sunflowers and other herbs in my garden, which I loved, but now I’d need a flame thrower to fight the cursed weed that took over.

Of all the plants which need to go on the noxious weeds list, it should certainly be cooch grass, it’s possibly the worst weed I have personally come to know and I need serious help to get rid of it… Of course it’s spread to the neighbours houses too and if defeated in our yard, would merely return from next door.

In an episode of Doctor Who, The doctor took his friend to see a future vision of Earth, which had lush green lawns, of a low grass that never needed mowing, and smelled sweetly of green apples. Does this lovely vision have to be mere fantasy? could we grow something as sensible as this and put an end to the weekend routine of mowing the lawn? or is the urge to push a big, noisy, smokey engine around too powerful to overcome.

I am not the lawn mowing type, and hope that someone does, at some future point, create a grass, that, if we must have, behaves itself and smells light and fragrant when brushed against.

One last thing, Not long ago, A twitter friend found her home in Ireland on Googles Street View, and it occured to me that I could do the same with our Holiday home, When I found it, I felt a little bit sad as it looked neglected and alone, where once it was always neat and tidy.

A lot like my home now, which is falling apart, as I am with it.





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