Japanese knotweed, or Japonica, is a nearly unkillable invasive ornamental that will fight it out with the cockroaches and rats for control of the post-apocalyptic wasteland, I predict. Or maybe I’m just sore from all the digging.
In early September you can see why last century landscapers
brought home Japanese knotweed. Atop the thicket of tall canes
the long blooms blow like the white manes of green horses.
Lovely, really – not needing weeding or feeding or pest control.
You see it around abandoned farmhouses spread up tight against
walls and windows, obscuring the ground floor, filling in the yard,
even pushing up through the hardpan of the driveway, shading out
everything else that once lived: sedges, flowers, and shrubbery.
Behind our house in the village, it spread each spring back out
from its redoubt behind a backyard neighbor’s carriage house
to push beyond the fence, boxelders, and spirea, into our yard.
And every year we dug, yanked, and mowed it back to the fence.
It was the gardening equivalent of making little rocks out of big.
Pointless in the long run — you couldn’t get it all; nothing could.
In the basement we would find pale sun-starved stalks grown
between the sandstone blocks of the foundation, undiscouraged.
Moving out beyond the village brought no respite. There it was,
flourishing amid the rubble of the old dairy barn. Each year since
the stalemate has run, like trench warfare, one side or the other
gaining a few feet. And each season I break another shovel, digging.