Sometimes I just don't know quite what to do, and wish I could turn to a book called Restoration Gardening for Conscientious Stewards of the Land. One day, if there is not such a book, I'm going to write it: a practical guide for wild land restoration gardeners based on my experiences and on research and interviews etc.
For example, OK, the fire department gives us these guidelines for Defensible Zone - 30 feet, 100 feet etc. So I do the thinning sort of. I can't sacrifice manzanita; I'd rather burn I guess. But where a year ago there were chamise shrubs, Adenostoma fasciculatum, the most flammable and prevalent of the chaparral shrubs here, now there are --- these:
I'm not sure but I think they might be Conyza canadensis, whose common names include Canadian horsetail. They are native to here. They are native to there. They are native to just about every damn where. They are a weedy plant of disturbed places. They can take various forms it seems, but always have that upright habit - they grow to about 3-5 feet tall - and they blossom in a gazillion tiny flowers each of which launches a gazillion tiny seeds.
I've had them elsewhere from earlier clearings, and I yanked them all, and I think it did do the trick. I mean they went away pretty much. But is that the right thing to do? - Or are they like Mother Nature's Scab, not to be picked?
What is supposed to happen where I cleared? What am I supposed to do next? It's a slope and I don't want to put mulch everywhere, though I do have mulch. It would end up in the road below this slope.
There are also other weeds also taking over, smaller and nastier and harder to remove. But my hands are itching to pull every one of these [adjectival interjection] plants.
They are butt ugly, I have to say - though a restoration gardener maybe shouldn't be so concerned about aesthetics. It's a process, after all - yet one we hope that leads to nature expressing herself in ever greater gushes of beauty. That may be a Wordsworthian fallacy - "sweet is the lore that nature brings." It is an artificial sort of restoration that denies the ugly and cosmopolitan natives their role, perhaps. But then it is a garden. Ah the conundra of life.
So - on my one day off this week, should I walk through the chaparral and yank all of these?