When one neighbor got married 21 years ago, a friend put in a small garden near the front door as a wedding present. Neither of the couple gardens, and they have spent a number of years on international assignments. Today all that remains in that garden is houttuniya. It covers an area as large as 2 children's swimming pools.
I once toyed with buying houttuniya for its beautiful cream, red, and green variegated heart-shaped leaves. Now i see very few of the multi-colored leaves because the plant reverted to plain green leaves and began to gallop. Only the lawn mower keeps it in check.
Sometimes we toy with unskillful behaviors--a white lie, a little cheat, the "borrowing" of something we never return, wine with dinner after we've promised ourselves to abstain. "It won't hurt anyone," we tell ourselves. These behaviors may even look quite attractive, like the variegated houttuniya.
When those behaviors become habitual, the flowers and fruits of the spiritual life are overrun. Our bad habits run over our best intentions. In my friends' garden, one lone cranesbill geranium pokes its pink head above the mass of houttuniya.