Things change. The force shifts. People complain about Japanese kudzu, Asiatic bittersweet, burning bush and knotweed. The names go on and on and all sound like poetry—yellow flag iris, Dame’s rocket—and the plants are, no matter what the objection, beautiful.
I know people who point out these invasives in darkly accusatory tones. Yes, I understand they take over, nudge out some of the natives, even kill others, but like all immigrants, who’s to say they have less value than the original inhabitants. And I’ve always felt the time and energy spent to control them is not only misplaced but often, clearly wasted.
In most cases, the thrust of nature needs to be accepted and the immutable rules of life—that everything changes—should be honored. Only the afflictions we heap on ourselves can be mitigated.
I’m an invasive myself, transplanted from New York City thirty-five years ago. My neighbors didn’t like me. My 2.9 acres abutted their ten plus and they had walked my land for years. They were Vermonters, ten generations back and knew the land before it had been divided and knew the owners of the land before the owners who had sold it to me. Across the road lived equally rooted Vermonters who also didn’t like me. It may be slightly mean-spirited to mention this, but my neighbor across the road had switched husbands with her sister, an act, creative as it may have been, did not set her up to judge anyone else with the moral rectitude she beamed at me.
In any event, I built a small house, invisible from the road and to all of my neighbors, moved in with my baby daughter and worked forty to sixty hours a week as a nurse at the local hospital to pay the mortgage. I was quiet and friendly and industrious and they still didn’t like me. Why? Because I was an invasive, not native, not local.
In any case, I’m settled here now and defy anyone to transplant, smother or eject me. I’ve grown a tap root which may go all the way to India by now. And maybe, just maybe, I might have value here too. The rhododendron, transplanted from China to Scotland, has taken over vast areas there and brashly grows into impenetrable forests. But when it blooms, when it blooms, it is glorious.