Weeding the garden is a bit like doing the house work, I know that if I keep putting it off things will only get worse and yet I've been doing just that for the best part of a year. I'm a reluctant weeder, not because I find it a tedious task but because I actually rather like weeds. Having evolved to be perfectly suited to our growing conditions, our wild flowers are much more at home here than the fancy ornamentals we would rather have, but there are some that are so successful even I must concede that they really do have to go.
Given the tangled mass of foliage in my beds and borders, any sensible person would dig over the soil pull out all the weeds and throw the lot on the compost heap. But contrary to sound gardening advice if I don't know what a plant is I'll leave it and see what it turns out to be, so my weeding efforts can be very long winded as I inspect and attempt to identify all the seedlings of granny's bonnet, teasel, self heal, valerian, viola, vetch and anything else that might have decided to pop up. I enjoy gardening on this intimate scale, close up, down and dirty with the woodlice worms and beetles. It also means that I don't inadvertently dig out any of the self sown hellebores, poppies, fennel and verbena and it allows me to get to know my garden and its inhabitants in much finer detail.
Where the buttercups are growing the ground retains moisture, the soil is richer so I know it will be a good place if I want to grow Hosta, Rodgersia or Ligularia. The dry patches at the edges of paths I've found to be alive with ants, perfect spots to watch out for a visit from a hungry green woodpecker and at the base of a dry stone wall is a daytime hiding place for snails where I can sometimes see the thrush hunting.
On hands and knees I'm at eye level with the blackbirds taking their daily bath in the pond and the robin as he follows my progress inspecting the disturbed ground for insects.
This isn't just weeding and it's certainly no chore, what I'm really doing is getting to know my garden intimately and hopefully next year we will both be all the better for it.
Self heal - the name gives it away, it used to be used to heal wounds.
|Teasel - brilliant for goldfinches|
Granny's bonnet - self seeds everywhere, a great gap filler