Monday, November 16, 2009
Last Call - Porcelain Berries
This first photo is of Porcelain Berries (Ampelopsis) which have weaved their way through the last blossoms of Feverfew. Porcelain berries start out deep purple, changing as they age to this incomparable, Wedgwood blue. I suppose birds eat them, though I don't know of that specifically. For humans, they are not edible. They are invasive, like so many berried things I've written about this fall. Ampelopsis is not native to Maine, but to northeast Asia and far east Russia. It spreads by seeds and vegetatively, that is, by pieces of the roots and is regarded as an undesirable, vigorous invader. A gardening friend gave the original plants to me and warned me that the vine is invasive. I was so in love with the surreal color of the berries that I ignored what he said. I coddled that tender root stock and the plant that came to life the first spring. All babies are really cute, which is often what keeps the parents from killing them outright. Of plants it is said that once put into the ground, the first year, they sleep; the second year they creep, then the third year; they leap. My Porcelain Berries are in their third year. Now, I'm beginning to have fear and suspicion that my friend was right. Once your infant has become a toddler and starts having temper tantrums, it's too late to put it back where it came from or do it in without any trace. I'm afraid that is so with my precious Porcelain Berry, too. I had read on line that the vine is invasive in other states such that it is banned to the commercial trade. Still, my friend's garden and my own are the only ones in Maine where I've seen it growing. Now, seedlings are sprouting all over the place in my yard and I have to whack back the vines savagely a couple of times a summer, or it would take over my house. If I was smart, I'd kill it off now while there is still hope. When I look at those wonderful berries, though, I tell myself, "Next year. I'll kill it next year." Then, spring rolls around, the leaves which look like grape leaves, begin to unfurl along the woody vine and I remember the berries that will come in the fall. Like grapes, the flowers are insignificant creamy clusters. If the flowers were all the plant did, it would be easy to execute it. Like the Japanese Barberry in my garden, I'm going to one day be really sorry I didn't snuff it out while I had a fighting chance. My own grown children have no idea how close they came! It's a good thing (I can say this now) that they had such beautiful eyes and looked at me with deepest love and won an occasional award. Perhaps I'll kill it next year.