As you know, I also like to hang out in gardens. Here is a gate in the Chicago Botanic Garden, with a Clematis vine I pulled in from around the corner. I love the round ball on top of a squared off column, concrete and brick, softened by plants. I also love the collaboration between humans and nature. We are at our best, it seems to me, when we are creating beauty. On other fronts, it is garlic mustard time. When I go for walks looking for rare plants to draw this time of year, I try to bring a bag with me to pull the garlic mustard. Left to it’s own nefarious devices, it will completely conquer an area, knocking back all native flora and creating a monoculture. I’m told that it secretes a chemical into the soil that suppresses native plants. I know that buckthorn does that as well. Yesterday I was exploring a site I’m coming to really appreciate. It is a high quality woodland with a rich history and an equally rich understory. So, as I walked along with my eyes peeled for twinleaf, I noticed some clumps of garlic mustard and thought, “oh, darn, I wish I remembered to bring a bag!”. If you pull it and let it fall, it will go ahead and set seeds. You have to bag it and remove it from the area for your efforts to be effective. We volunteers have learned to use those heavy black garbage bags, as the plants just keep right on growing in lighter bags. Then, a few steps on, there was a bag! Wow! It must have been being carried by the steward that very day, and been dropped. It was still all folded up, pristine. Wish I could do that with money… Anyway, I was able to pull quite a bit of garlic mustard and nearly filled the bag. I did find twinleaf, and several other species I don’t usually come across. There was a very sweet little “garden” springing up from a patch of moss at the foot of a tree. A tiny fern, a diminutive trillium, a trout lily, and what I’m hoping will turn out to be Uvularia. Fun! I’m going to drag my family there today. It’s such a neat site I want to share it.