Nearly a year ago (in May 2014), I wrote a post about the fine line between weeds and wildflowers. The gist of the rant was that our rock garden and entire property was being invaded by a lovely flower related to wild yellow alyssum (a member of the same mustard, or Brassicaceae family called Physaria). It’s a little earlier in the spring, and even yellower!
First, the good. If you love early, yellow blooms, this is a pretty little flower. It looks pretty up against a rock or under a red rose, perhaps. Notice I said “it,” as in a single plant. More on that in the ugly portion…
Now for the bad: This little spreader has cropped up throughout the garden, and we’ve pulled up a few, though I surrendered long before my husband. He has much more patience, though he hasn’t yet tackled the entire garden. Because he wouldn’t get halfway before he had to start again.
If I had any doubt last year about the plant’s classification as a weed, at least in this setting, I have no doubt now. And that’s the ugly part. Despite our best (nontoxic, of course) efforts to control this little bloomer, it has taken over every nearly every surface and begun spreading to neighbors’ lawns as well. I have no idea how it started; it came with the house!
Having called it ugly, I have to admit the lawn is really pretty when the sun hits it just right early and late in the day. And we are doing our part ecologically, because the bees swarm all over it when the sun shines. The dogs and deer must tread carefully.
As for last year’s fear about this native flower choking out summer grass, we still had a green lawn come summer. It is possible they delay the grass taking root a little, but in other years they can cover the ground and prevent really bad weeds from coming up.
UPDATE April 6, 2015: A few days after posting this, we headed east to visit relatives, through Roswell and almost to the Texas border. Guess what we saw growing in the worst possible conditions along roadways nearly the entire trip? You guessed it! And it was in my in-laws’ lawn and their neighbors’ yards too. My mother-in-law said she has seen it for years and knew it as a prairie wildflower. I give up and accept this invasive plant as a prairie wildflower … for now, and accept that it is great for bees and soil.