Every year, as the garden starts to grow again, after taking a long and much needed rest during winter, there are always a few things that come up that I don’t recognize. Memory doesn’t always serve me well in spring. Surviving winter can take a lot out of a person.

I like to get a head start on the weeds, because spring rains have softened the soil and they’re also generally easier to pull when they’re small. There are always a few that start growing before my wanted plants do.

This year was different. I could say that about a LOT of things that have happened already this year, but in regard to my garden, it’s especially apropos. We had a mild winter, which means some things survived out there that may not have with a harsher one.

When things I don’t recognize start coming up en masse, I tend to let them go, just in case they’re “real” plants. I’ve planted things one year, only to forget that I did the next. If there are more of them, perhaps they’ve multiplied and spread from the year before. That could be a good and desirable thing.

Smack in the middle of the largest of our gardens, some plants started coming up in mid-spring that I absolutely knew I hadn’t planted. For years, coneflowers have occupied that space and they’re pretty dense. These were not coneflowers, so I pulled them out.

No problem, right? Well, not quite. I pulled the weeds, but where these weeds had been, there were no longer any coneflowers. The weeds had choked the coneflowers out. Weeds are mean like that. We used the opportunity to plant a shrub there, making lemonade out of lemons.

There were two other spots where some plants had grown by leaps and bounds, too. I didn’t recognize them, but there were so many of them in both places that I thought they had to be a good thing. There were also some unidentified plants coming up next to some natives and I thought maybe one of them was goldenrod. Time will tell.

Then last week, I saw a Facebook post by a friend who lives near Indianapolis and I recognized his photo as one of the same mystery plants in my garden that by now had grown to a height of about 3-4 feet. The news was not good.

What we had growing was mare’s tail (Conyza canadensis). It can be invasive and it’s a prolific self-seeder. I was intrigued that we’d never before had it, and now it was growing quite well in our garden in a couple of different places. Because I didn’t recognize it, I’d allowed it to gain a foothold.

We spent some time pulling and digging it out and as far as we can tell, we’re rid of it. And now that we know what it is we can pull it while it’s young if any more pops up. The taller ones needed a shovel to remove them.

I wondered how we’d gotten so many plants in just one year’s time and where did they come from in the first place? I may never know the answer, but it’s possible that birds were responsible, since a couple of locations were next to trees. That’s where I always find poison ivy growing, too. If only birds could be potty-trained to do their business elsewhere.

Read more about Kylee’s garden and nature by following her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/kyleebaumle. Contact her at PauldingProgressGardener@gmail.com.