The National Garden Bureau has proclaimed 2013 as the Year of the Wildflower, and as much as I enjoy many species of native wildflowers, I can't warm up to field bindweed.
You may know this pest as wild morning glory, but I know it as one of the nastiest weeds to deal with each year in my front garden.
Not only does it grow with what seems to be lightning speed, it begins blooming as early as April and continues to bloom until the first frost finally knocks it down.
The vines of this plant reminds me of the notorious vine in the movie ''Jumanji'' that grabbed its prey and carried it away. While it doesn't literally pull my plants out of the ground and disappear with them, the bindweed vine will wrap itself around anything in its path and hang on for dear life.
If I'm not diligent, and admittedly, sometimes I'm not, pulling the vines from shrubs, trees and other plants can be challenging.
These plants also lie. They seem to pull up out of the ground quite easy once you grab the vine and begin to tug, but in reality, they are hiding a taproot that can reach as long as 20 feet underground. Snap off the root anywhere along its length and it will work even harder to grow more vines.
Field bindweed is a master of disguise as well.
''Oh, look at the pretty morning glory flowers!'' might be the first thought of those unwitting visitors to the garden. But those of us who deal with the plant all season know the true identity of Convolvulus arvensis.
You could say this plant is the black sheep of the morning glory family, Convolvulaceae, with a reputation that labels it as one of the most difficult weeds to eliminate from a garden. I can attest to this. I have been fighting this nuisance for more than 40 years.
The land where my house was built was once an open field where all species of wildflowers grew and thrived. All of these years later, many still try to reclaim their territory and in some cases, we allow it. When the wild violets fill up the side yard with their purple flowers, we talk about how lovely they look. When orange and yellow hawkweed, white and purple clover and patches of bluets coat the back lawn, we welcome them.
Unfortunately, unlike those wildflowers that seem to know their space, field bindweed is greedy and makes no attempt to hide its desire to claim the entire property for itself.
The leaves of this plant are arrow-shaped and grow opposite each other along the stem. The flowers are pale pink to white with five petals that are fused together to form the familiar trumpet shape blossom. The vine grows in a circular manner enabling it to meander innocently along the ground until it encounters an obstacle, such as a shrub rose, azalea, tree trunk or porch banister. Rather than politely moving around the obstacle, bindweed boldly grows over and through anything in its path.
As if to throw us a double whammy, bindweed also spreads by seeds that I've been told can live in the soil for up to 60 years. With these odds working against us, we can expect to be battling this plant the rest of our lives.