What Were You Thinking, Scotland?

Thistles. They have become the bane of my existence, here at the Queendom.

milk-thistle-flower

Beautiful only in photographs.

If you do a little research, you will find the “Canada Thistle” classified as a noxious weed in the six largest provinces of Canada and in 43 states. They not only spread by tufted seed heads, like a dandelion, but also through their taproots, which can grow 6 METERS in a single year (that’s 20 ft, my US friends)! A single taproot can send up a new shoot every 10 cm. The mathematical calculations required to figure out how many plants can grow from a single thistle are far too complex for my mind. Besides, my problem does not concern the spread of a single plant. We have five acres of mostly cleared land that thistles claimed as their own and I think the battle was won before we even moved in.

This field of thistles isn’t mine, but this is a fair approximation of my current battle.

By mid-summer, the thistles began to flower and the magnitude of the issue came into view. I couldn’t sit back and watch those flowers go to seed. I had to take action, no matter how inconsequential my efforts would be. With FM’s handy old tree-planting staff (my shovel of choice for all things gardening) and thick leather work gloves, I headed off yonder to show them who reigns the Queendom now.

Honestly, these plants make me look diminuitive!

Well, I’ll be. These things are huge! Many of them tower over me, reaching over 6 ft tall. I spent the better part of two weekends digging and pulling and piling thistle plants. The cull will have to be burned once the fire ban is over. We sure can’t compost them!

If you don’t look too closely, it seems that I emerged triumphant this time as I kept most of the flowers from going to seed.  But sadly, there are many new sprouts showing up, proving that nature is relentless.

creeping-thistles-1440x700

and so on and so on …

“an ancient Celtic symbol of nobility of character as well as of birth, for the wounding or provocation of a thistle yields punishment” quote taken from wikipedia. This author is willing to abide such punishment for her purposeful actions against the sacred plant.

A quick little history lesson – It is said (by Wikipedia) that in ancient times, a Norse army was sneaking up on a Scottish encampment and had successfully come within striking distance unnoticed. One Norseman stepped on a thistle plant and cried out in pain, revealing their position and alerting the Scots. Thereafter, the Scots held the thistle  in high regard.

Hmmm…perhaps I too should revere the thistle as it is keeping the Queendom safe from invading armies (of zombies?)

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2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Terry F said,

    All I can say, Martha, is if you can’t beat them… make wine 🙂
    http://www.ehow.com/how_7681522_make-thistle-wine.html

    • 2

      Along A Path said,

      Thistle wine? I can’t believe I have come this far in life without ever knowing of its existence. Perhaps now we could qualify for ‘farm tax’ status as we reap the thistle harvest!


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