poetry and prose about place

garden escapes: vectors

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The term ‘vector’ has different meanings depending on the discipline. In university I took two engineering courses that occupied me in the study of ‘vector’ mathematics!


In biology, a ‘vector’ is any organism or physical entity that moves an element from one place to another. The idea of vectors is used in epidemiology, in reproductive biology, and in ecology. When I try to understand garden escapes, I am interested in vectors for seed or vegetative dispersal.


Once a garden is abandoned, the plants there will either die, persist or escape. They escape by way of rhizomes (horizontal roots), rooting of plant parts (suckering) or spreading of seeds.


Seeds or pieces of plant can be spread to other locations by various vectors: water, soil, air or animals. Seeds, for example, can be carried along by water in a ditch, or can spread by wind that carries seeds on specially adapted seed parts.


dandelion fluff 2

air as a vector for seed transport


Animal vectors include insects, birds, mammals (including humans). Some of this is deliberate (a squirrel burying acorns) and some is accidental (humans spreading seed by moving soil from one area to another).


squirrel as a vector

squirrel as a vector for transport of seed


The various garden escapes I have encountered usually have their preferred vectors.

  • lupines- seeds carried through air as a projectile
  • orange day-lilies- rhizomes through soil
  • yellow loosestrife- rhizomes through soil
  • creeping bellflowers- rhizomes through soil
  • rose bushes- roots through soil; humans who dig up and replant shoots
  • grape vines – suckering, seeds, humans


This is a poem about a human vector (me):


paths to come and go on


Old rugosa rose,

brought the stem and root,

across the ferry

from Grand Manan,

in a banana peel.

Every summer pale

pink blooms on an arc

of thorns, biggest hips

you ever saw. Rose

will outlast the house

and all who live here.


Virginia creeper

dug From the river bank

below the willow

on Waterloo Row.

Overcomes the pole

and every summer

the power people

pull the creeper down.

Red in the autumn,

sneaks across the lawn,

started down the drive

and along the road.


The staghorn sumac

pinnate leaves spreading

cast purple shadows,

give a tropical air

to the driveway.

Brought the root and slip

from the gravel pit

in Beaver Dam.

New shoots every year.

Headed direction

of Nasonworth,

last time I looked.


34 Olinville road pink roses crop


Note that this project ‘garden escapes’ is funded under a Creations Grant from artsnb (the New Brunswick Arts Board).


All my best!


Written by jane tims

July 29, 2020 at 7:00 am

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