June 8 2014
The main type of grass on our farm is kikuyu, a sturdy running grass with deep roots. When one of the other families had to excavate deeply into the side of the hill to make a flat slab for their house, it exposed the devilishness of the kikuyu, with its long runners at least a metre below the surface of the soil. I’ve been pulling them up all day, and I know my dreams will be filled with my searching for their thick white strands, the feel of breaking them from the earth, the effort of extracting them.
One of our less successful attempts at holding the kikuyu at bay was to lay down a length of weedmatting on top of it. I say ‘our’, but Martin was never convinced. In my defence, it hasn’t been completely unsuccessful, since the grass has been substantially weakened by this treatment, and pulls up with less of a struggle than usual, sometimes even with a very satisfying length of runner attached. But not completely successful because we (and that is ‘we’) left the weedmat down for too long and it has decayed quite a lot in places. Small clumps of its plastic strands are interwoven with the grass, creating nasty little nests of inorganic impurity.
The cows have no complaints about the kikuyu. Four of the Friesians stood at the gate and watched me until I took them some clumps of grass. The bravest one inched forward, its head down against the gate, then lifting at the last minute to grab the grass from my hand. The others muscled in and started jostling at that. Soon four massive muzzles were reaching over the gate, sniffing wetly at me, wide nostrils twitching.
When I was at school in the Southern Highlands of NSW, we had our kikuyu wars – I had blistered hands from chopping wood, and somehow pulling up the kikuyu led to the blisters becoming infected. I spent a day or two with both hands becoming more and more balloon-like until finally I was driven into Mittagong where a doctor lanced the swellings and squeezed a lot of ‘matter’ out. I still can show the (tiny) scars. I hate kikuyu
Kikuyu prompts deep emotions it seems! I though it was just Martin who had an abiding hatred for it, but it looks like he is in good company.
I remember kikuyu and still know it as the dominatrix of my parents garden. Not suer why I consider grass as female. My father planted kikuyu as it was said to be the most resilient and hardy of the grasses. Nothing like a grass that outlives humans I guess. Personally I prefer the softer varieties although I must admit some of them can tend to look not unlike Frank Sinatra’s hairpiece.
There is a deep pleasure in triumphing over a patch of kikuyu, lifting a length of black plastic to see it yellowed beneath. Is this dominating the dominatrix?