Discovering a hidden haven in the Latrobe Valley, Victoria, Australia

For me the last couple of months have represented a complete re-discovery of life via the garden. Gradually, as the secrets of plants and minibeasts unfold I feel a curiosity and zest for life that has been missing for some time now.

The saying goes that ‘A little knowledge is a dangerous thing’, but for me right now it is both a terrifying and wonderful thing. I know I’m ignorant, but I don’t really care, because I’m embarking on an exciting journey of ‘finding out’ and I couldn’t be happier.

But what has Cynodon Dactylon got to do with it?

Cynodon Dactylon wondering where to head next.

I know it as Couch Grass, but according to Weeds Australia it is also known as Bermuda grass, Florida Grass and Twitch Grass. It is listed as native to both Australia and Africa and I know it isn’t just a problem here. I noticed in my local hardware store that it is sold as a hardy lawn for Australian conditions and particularly good if you have dogs. Every garden in my neighbourhood seems to have a Couch Grass lawn, but not every garden has a dog.

Couch Grass is a known garden escapee and a problem in many natural reserves in my area. It spreads by sending out great long runners and according to Kenneth Thompson in his book ‘Weeds: How to Deal with Plants that Behave Badly’, researchers once measured a runner at a whopping 145 meters. That is a plant truly on a mission to take over.

Even Couch grass has it's good points, and the Grass Darts love it, so maybe it can have a monitored spot to provided habitat. At least until I find an alternative.

But for me Cynodon Dactylon, it is the plant that laid down the challenge and asked the question ‘Do you really care enough to take me on?’ It is now the plant I am spending the most time with (followed by that dratted Ivy!)  and I am not just pulling out, I am finding out about it and I feel alive!

looking up at the sky from being flat on the ground. That is where I usually end up after a day spent pulling up couch grass!

You never know, if I manage to contain Cynodon Dactylon one day, I may even feel that I have earned the right to call myself a formerly lazy gardener.

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Comments on: "How Cynodon Dactylon Brought Me Back To Life." (10)

  1. Deja vu! …. same story … different plant. It was about a year and a half ago that I really became interested in what was going on in this garden … and all because of a little plant called Ruellia. It was popping up absolutely everywhere and I didn’t know what it was! Once I decided on trying to find out what it was … my interest was peaked and I wanted to know more about all my plants! It’s been a great voyage of discovery and I’m still sailing!

  2. Each plant has a role to play within biodiversity context. Some plants are meant to be the first to fill up recently cleared lands/plots. In Malaysia senduduk plants are among the first. Then soon grass comes in, before other plants take their position. A grass of such wild nature as you mentioned, I suppose plays the noble role of filling up empty lands soon after forest fire!!

    Cheers, ~bangchik

    • Oh, that reminds me Bangchik! I forgot to mentiont that while it is an Australian native grass, it is not native to my area. So sadly when it happily fills up spare spaces it can strangle out those who should be doing the job.
      Now I’ve got Senduduk on my list to have a look at too!

  3. 145 meters?!! It’s on the mission!

  4. Ah, we wage similar stand-offs with our French Broom here. Dastardly stuff. There are some creatures that like it, and appreciate the blooms, and it is pretty, but it damages native habitat and displaces our native animals and insects. I doubt couch grass is quite that bad, but I expect you probably have some lovely native grasses that might bring beauty and structure to the garden, attract an even broader array of wild things, and still please the grass darts too.

    • Yes, I guess Couch Grass is generally limited to invading open sunny spaces, so it does not do as much damage in the bush as it otherwise might. I do find it a little perplexing that it is listed as a noxious weed yet still widely sold as a lawn seed.
      I’m going to be investigating our local native grasses (the butterfly books have been a good help here) while I gradually bring this stuff under control.

  5. It’s exciting for me to see another person become enamored by the garden and it’s ‘inhabitants’–I’m happy for you, that it has been refreshing & reawakening your sense of ‘aliveness’. And believe me, with so many new garden blogging friends to keep you busy, you are going to be feeling SO alive that you’re going to need a break;-) Haha. That grass sounds like something we might have liked having in our yard when we lived in SC many years ago–we were having trouble getting grass to grow there. But I see the problem with it for you! I hope you can figure out how to keep it ‘under control’:-)

  6. Hello Jan and thank you for your lovely comments 🙂 Yes, meeting so many other wonderful garden bloggers is feeding my motivation even more!

    As for the grass – I guess it’s hardiness is what made Couch Grass popular in the first place!

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