One would assume that everything in the garden is all light and lovely and full of the joys of spring. All around us buds are breaking, sprouts are sprouting, the little birdies are tweeting and the lower mammals are shagging their little hearts out.
However, there is a dark side. In fact there are a number of less salubrious areas in our gardens into which many people choose not to venture. They are like wandering through Disneyland and coming across a seedy bar full of drunken matelots, slim boys with vapid eyes and women with overpowdered cleavages.
Let me talk about one such den of iniquity: weeds that pretend to be something else. Bindweed that dresses as Morning Glory, Hairy Bittercress that pretends to be all cute and delicate while plotting to take over the world and, in particular, the Horsetail. Equisetum is one of those weeds which, on first meeting, you think is rather attractive in a slightly unusual way. Ribbed stems covered in fine hairs pushing their way through the ground . Rather like Serge Gainsbourg.
“Gosh” you say “that looks like a handsome plant, I quite fancy some of that.”
This would be a mistake. In this, as in so many things in life, you should not be taken in by first appearances. Small dogs are often the most vicious. That dapper young man in the old school tie could be a ruthless con artist after your pension and that sultry young lady with precipitous breasts and a very small dress may not only want you for your body.
Equisetum is a serious weed which, in one guise or another, exists on every continent except Antarctica. It’s ancestors were hanging around the Paleozoic forests a hundred million years ago and you don’t survive that long without being canny. Their roots start many feet below the surface so you have no hope of digging it out without a very large excavator. It spreads by producing spores (like a fern or a mushroom) which it pings out from a rather unsavoury looking proboscis.
So, no matter how pretty: no matter how desirable: no matter how coquettishly it may look at you and no matter how finely turned its ankle you must resist at all costs.
Unless of course, you like it very rough indeed.