17 May 2014

The wonder of weeds.


The fantastic weather at this time of the year provides excellent growing conditions for the very foundation of our garden i.e the plants, however favourable conditions for plants also mean good conditions for weeds.

At this time of year the staff at the walled garden spend a great deal of time weeding, the picture below shows our excellent volunteers "double mulching" using a multiple layer of newspaper followed by a layer of composted green waste.

But what is a weed?, is it a plant that has self seeded?, this definition would rule out keeping the stunning Silene latifolia below.

So is a weed a plant that wasn't planted, or is in the wrong place?, although this definition is probably more accurate it would still mean that this Aqualegia spp. would get the hoe.

Ok then a weed is something that can be invasive perhaps?, i'd argue that left long enough most plants will fill a niche as is the way of nature.  Should this potentially invasive Euphorbia lathyris really be doomed, I think this interesting biennial plant is great for structure and (if you believe the lore) a good mole deterrent.

There are of course much more obvious plants that we regard as weeds, I pulled a few Sow thistles as I took these very photographs, but even these were met with some interest at a wildflower event I attended last year. 
The very act of weeding helped me learn to identify a lot of what we call "Wildflower" and also gives you a chance to see wildlife such as the Cinnabar moth flying in the grounds today.  All cultivated plants are essentially just highly bred wildflowers/weeds.  The irony of hoeing off thistle seedlings growing around the base of the planted thistles such as Cirsium is not lost on me.
While we strive for the perfection associated with a Chelsea show garden I'm content to be a conscientious objector in the war against weeds and just enjoy them for what they are. 
 My opinion?, i'd say its only a weed if you don't like it.



  1. Anonymous17 May, 2014

    I am interested in the idea of "double mulching". I have never tried this before. Is it very effective?
    From Bakey Becky ��

  2. Yes, we tested a small area before rolling it out on a large scale, i was sceptical but it seems to work. Normal mulch stops a lot of the annual weed seed from germinating but isnt great with regards to perrenial weeds. If you apply 3 or 4 layers of newspaper or card first it provides a bit of a barrier and excludes light better. Obviosly this then rots into the soil.

  3. Great blog....totally agree with you about the definition of weeds

  4. Great blog....totally agree with you about the definition of weeds!


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