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Plants VS Ants – Mysteries of My Backyard Garden

Life is full of mysteries. Mysteries that keep me up at night trying to figure them out. Really important stuff, too. Like what do they call coffee break at the Lipton’s Tea factory? Or how is that my child, who never seems to be able to see his size 15 shoes on the shoe rack, can spot the tiniest morsel of mushroom in his food? Or why is it I never crave celery or kale, only chips and dip? And speaking of chips, how is it that it takes a month of really hard work to lose 3 pounds, but a half bag of Doritos and bam– the pounds are back – with friends?

Right now, my yard is full of mysteries – and ants. Freaking ants; they have invaded my flowerbeds in a force that would make Genghis Khan proud. I’m not talking about one or two little squadrons – nope, the entire army has marched onto my property – with allied forces offering support. War has been declared. I have vowed to take no prisoners, to allow no mercy. I will fight them in the rock garden and on the lawn. I will fight them amongst the raspberry canes and flowers. I shall go on to the end and never surrender. But where, oh, where do they all come from? How can one small yard sustain so many? Why won’t they just die, or surrender or move into the neighbouring territory? I’ve tried all tricks and methods of warfare. From Borax and chemical weapons produced by Raid to planting mint and lay mines of diatomaceous earth; the ants keep marching on and on and on. The real mystery will be how many resources I will invest in to rid my petunias of this infestation.

And, speaking of garden mysteries, why can I grow just about anything but roses? I shudder to think how many times I have bought a rose bush just to be left with a dried shriveled husk of a plant the following spring. I baby them along, talk to them, nurture them and then, each spring, exhume the remains and start again. This time in another spot, hoping for a miracle. I make sure they get at least six hours of sunlight, I provide the recommended 1 inch of water per week and even lovingly provide plant food. I have checked the soil’s PH and added nutrients as recommended and prayed for success. I know roses grow in Strathmore. The red and yellow blossoms across the street mock me every time I go out the door. I’ve asked my neighbour how she cares from them only to be told that she doesn’t really do anything. I wonder if her roses mysteriously vanished in the middle of the night, if anyone would notice.

I also have mystery plants. Plants that I know I didn’t plant, plants that didn’t germinate from the seeds of last year’s botany. I have a beautiful mountain ash in my front yard. I have no idea where it came from; it just suddenly appeared two springs ago. It is now over six feet tall. I have ignored it, provided it with none of the love and care to which I shower upon the roses and yet it seems to be thriving. Same with the purple flowers that the bees swarm to. They have taken over the back rock garden. I didn’t plant them. They just appeared. Another mystery of my flowerbeds. It seems like each year a new mystery plant species is growing in the backyard biosphere. Do the ants bring them? Perhaps these mystery plants hold the secret to the ants seemingly immortality – are they to the ants what Sampson’s hair was to him? I wish I knew. This mystery, however, will most likely remain unsolved and that’s okay, but what I actually want to know is why roses don’t mysteriously appear in my yard.


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