Pull away! We went for years without this pest here, and then it exploded. I personally lay the fault partially at the feet of the town: it can be traced to some fill for the road, and then several catastrophic washouts which deposited the road all over the Royal Oak area.* That being said, it would have gotten here anyway. And had I been paying attention, I might have caught it the year before the road washed. Some of you will recall, it was the fast thaw following the winter of all the snow that did it. The hurricanes finished the job.
At any rate, it is here. Victory, however, is possible. I went down to the Calf Pasture and wood road entrance the other day, with the gloomy assumption that I would be spending the day on that section. Amazingly, I found that the last two years have substantially reduced the infestation. The wood road had almost none (five plants); the Calf pasture had perhaps one-sixth the amount that it had last year. Now, I’ll have to get it again later in the summer and next year (a lot of first year seedlings were visible) but that is a far cry from the near 100% cover of the last two years. This gave me the time and the impetus to start in on Royal Oak proper. Maybe in a few years we’ll get it under control. It will never be eradicated, but it might fall under seasonal management as opposed to Oh My God.
As to why…well the Calf Pasture has golden-rod, Wake-Robin, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Canadian Lily-of-the-Valley, Baneberry, Cranesbill, Hay fern, Cinnamon Fern, Christmas Fern, various bunch grasses, grape, honeysuckle, dogwood, and various others.* All of which are going to do much better if they aren’t being choked by Garlic Mustard, which will eventually kill off most other understory plants. (it is actually capable of stressing mature trees thanks to the chemicals in its roots)
In my opinion, one has a certain responsibility to the land, if not to future generations. That said responsibility carries the dubious joy of seven ticks, wading in poison-ivy, and pulling Garlic Mustard till one’s respiratory system rebels; well, that is a very small price.
*the Royal Oak, Calf Pasture, and wood road entrance are about 6 acres of former pasture, evenly divided between flat and steep with rocks. They are now mostly open, second-growth forest. Several intermittent streams cut through the area, the dirt road is perched above it.
*I wasn’t doing plant ID, just passing observations while pulling.