I wander through the weeds
A weed is a plant in the wrong place. Frequently that wrong place is your garden. I defend to the hilt a gardener’s right to choose what he grows although I do not take kindly to a tall Leyland on my boundary or strong clumps of ground elder or equisetum just over the fence. Mea culpa when I grow the bee bum plant, Impatiens glutinosa in my garden, albeit a dwarf form. There are genuine Himalayan balsams that I allow to grow on the village plot.
|I used to have the Hymalayan balsam in Bolton Percy cemetery but the c-team got carried away weeding.|
Having eliminated a quarter of an acre of Japanese knotweed in the wood at Worsbrough cemetery I remembered how Victorian gardeners adored it. It crossed my mind that as I am not legally allowed to plant it I might get away with allowing a small isolated clump to regrow. It is perhaps fortunate that I could not find any.
A long time ago I might have said even nettles had a place - as long as they are not in my own garden. Now they are deeply trendy. Famed flower arranger George Smith had a very small clump in his wood when we visited his marvellous garden this June. Pocklington landscaper Martin Smith had a few in his gem of a small garden. Brother-in-law Dave Smith has fine specimens on his allotment. On second thoughts this might not have been planned. Dave I jest, I think your vertical wildlife cypress pinnacle in your tiny front garden is a work of genius and so do the birds. Not the lady next door.
An Open garden we know has a large wooded area of nettles with strimmed paths running through. Labelled ‘wildlife area’ we wonder if this is a case of a necessity transformed into virtue.
Brenda, like me, is very scathing about growing nettles. She says its not as if they were endangered, lacking natural habitat or even nice. I wonder how many who claim this garden thug as a home for butterflies and their caterpillars actually find them.
A former ecology colleague grew only weeds in his garden. I never saw them but I am told wildlife thrived. The best treatment of wild flowers that I have personally seen I described in my recent post about Jervaulx Abbey. There, wild flowers - actually mainly common weeds - make a wonderful display over the stones.
Thirty years ago my colleague Barry Potter moved the college bee hives on to a lawn adjacent to a small wood. He let the grass grow long and encouraged thousands of dandelions to grow. (I have always thought that if dandelions were difficult everyone would want them). The bees loved the dandelions which really looked lovely. Colleagues turned up their nose when they seeded around. Barry arranged for the then innovative differential mowing and visitors walked the grass paths.
Our language has changed and to call the area ‘wild’ was at that time something of an insult. We were starting to use warm words such as ‘ecological’, ‘natural’, ‘naturalistic’ and ‘back to nature’. A visitor gasped at her own folly when with a slip of the tongue she asked a question about the ‘overgrown lawn’.
|Brenda’s son’s buttercups in France look good in his meadow|
This Spring I enjoyed the yellow cover of dandelions and later on buttercups in Cathi’s developing grass verge. I retain the right to limit their numbers but I will certainly keep some.
For several years now I have grown drifts of upright bulbous buttercups in lightly wooded areas of Worsbrough cemetery. There are a few in my miniature glade of four Betula jaquemontii in my own garden.
Today I felt Brenda’s ire when she weeded excessive self sown campion and white Herb Robert and even to me too many volunteer red ones!
|I don’t let Brenda’s zeal propel me to pull out the volunteer foxgloves|
|Several poppies have decided they like Cathi’s garden|
|I allow celandine in parts of my lawn|
I love all the wild flowers in my cemetery gardens. Plants such as violets, campion and primroses thrive. The late Spring golden carpet of celandine at Bolton Percy is a joy to behold. Celandine is so well behaved It makes nutritious bird forage from February and then suddenly in June it disappears for the rest of the year. Can I claim the Spanish bluebells in the cemetery are wild flowers? They are certainly not weeds!
|Bluebells in Worsbrough cemetery|
|Cathi’s bluebells are so stately I doubted my identification|
It had not dawned on me that Cathi’s bluebells were the true native ones. I transferred a few hundred that had been dug up by the rabbits to her new verge. I was really quite surprised at how strong and sturdy they were. Really quite superior
Blogger Sue Garett has pointed out that the above picture is not the wild bluebell and is no doubt a hybrid. I like hybrids and will think just as highly of this plant's wonderful constitution No doubt hybrid vigour.
We enjoyed a walk round the wonderful Yorkshire Arboretum at Castle Howard last week.
They have left the magnificent skeleton of a large dead tree for its atmospheric outline and as a wildlife haven. For safety reasons the tree is surrounded by old sheep hurdles to keep the public away. Overgrown with thistles and nettles they make their contribution as an impenetrable barrier!
|What’s this? If you don’t recognise it, it will take over|
Ragwort ticks the right boxes as a host for the startling red cinnabar moth. The moth’s colours are a warning to predators that it is full of deadly ingested ragwort toxins. The handsome yellow weed is legally classified as noxious and it is beholden on landowners to control it. It is old legislation and few take any notice! Our local hedgerows are a brilliant yellow. The weed is deadly if ingested by herbivores and is particularly insidious when dry.
Cathi’s developing grass verge continues as un-mown grass along the length of the road. I thought the yellow plant just beyond our jurisdiction looked rather nice and I had left it. (I am somewhat relaxed about matters proprietorial).
Last week I met farm worker Michael by Cathi’s green bin. He was depositing a very large neatly dissected ragwort. He is very conscious of ragwort danger. His employer keeps very expensive racehorses. Michael is the man who has Foggathorpe clay. When on another occasion I had been down to Foggathorpe I looked for number four. There were four number fours - in the same street. Down there they are funny that way.
I notice some bloggers are starting to boast their cavalier attitude to weeds. It is almost an emblem of pride that they do very little weeding.
I think they will come to regret it.
|Some places have very nice weeds|
|In a sense there are three weeds here. Only an idiot like me would plant mares tail and the orchid has sown itself|
This dactylorhiza on the moist bank was planted. I wonder why we call plants in the water water-weeds?
|Weeds like these grow in disturbed landscape in Tignes in the French alps. Suppressed mares tail normally contributes to the mountain landscape and the dock is a relic of an ancient local crop|
|I will be blogging soon about controlling rosebay willow herb|
|But as a garden plant it is beautiful|
|The nicest of the two epilobiums (willow herbs) that infest every garden|
|The alien plant zealots might regard this solidago as a weed in the Welsh hills|
|If convolvulus was difficult to grow everyone would want it|
|An innovative scheme that mixes wild flowers and garden plants. Unfortunately such schemes are difficult to manage and are labour intensive.|
Links to related posts
Wild flowers in Tignes
Control of equisetum
Mike's Foggathorpe clay
Convolvulus is very easy to control if you do it right. (Scroll to the very end of the post)
A lot of pictures at Jervaulx
My opinion on introduced plants