Friday, 01 February 2019 19:03

February moan

"Warning" This is a non photo blog. It's a real moan.

Apologies for the gaps between blogs. I have been busy elsewhere but, more relevantly, I have been “garden depressed” for the first time since moving here and creating this garden. Why? During this year the mid and bottom end of my lovely “Kennett” bed, down the left hand side of my garden, was taken over by ground elder, nettles, briars, bindweed and grasses.

Nettles and briars I can (and do) pull out relatively easily though it is eternally boring, needs protective clothing and generally makes me cross when I am doing it, especially since I usually get stung and pricked in the process despite wearing gloves etc. - and they seem to be coming from my next door neighbour’s garden! They take space other plants would like and they disrupt the tending of my other plants by making it generally painful and difficult. The grasses are coming from the surrounding fields, plant themselves very deep, are very invasive and boring to remove.

But it is the bindweed and especially the ground elder that are my true nightmares. OK, if one chooses to be positive, ground elder could be seen as quite attractive, plentiful ground cover and it is edible but it invades the roots of everything and I have plants such as Acers in there that hate root disturbance.

I don’t want it there but it is so hard to remove organically. It spreads underground via white, beansprout-like, roots – like bindweed does. If you even leave a trace of one of these roots when you try to dig them up they will multiply even more.

I blame the Romans

The Monty Python-esque question “What did the Romans ever do for us?” normally results in all sorts of positive answers but few know that they brought ground elder with them as a salad crop. I really wish they hadn't!

Iinitially I thought “if I can’t beat it at least I can eat it”. I tried it. Sayaka, my Japanese ward, and I ate it in salads. It's not great or very interesting but fine. However, she and I simply can’t eat the quantity that has been growing in my garden and there seems to be no market for it at the greengrocers. I need to kill it but without killing my other plants in the same bed. I am loathe to use weed killers but trying to dig it up simply isn’t working and seems to be encouraging it. I am in a tough and negative place.

However, I think what I resent most about it and the other invasive weeds is that I hate being put in a bad mood when I am in my garden. It should be a place of creation, contemplation, therapy, scent, visual interest, love, joy and good mood whilst also being a place of positive hard work, normal weeding, digging, tending, cutting, growing, pollarding and pruning etc..

Yes, we always have to deal with aphids, slugs, snails, the odd plant disease etc but it shouldn’t be a constant unpleasant battle in the borders that upsets us in theory and in practise. The Kennett bed has been just this to me for the last six months.

I apologise for burdening you with this moan but my roses there have been swamped by bindweed, many of my plants have been root threatened by these weeds and being in the border has been painful and depressing for me. Ttchh!

I know I am not alone and I have to deal with it/until I do I won’t be happy/I can’t be defeated by it etc etc..

I would, however, choose to do this without chemical weed killer but I think I may be heading in that direction in the Spring when the ground elder starts appearing again. Otherwise I would simply have to re-dig up the entire bed, to a huge depth, remove all the plants except trees and then put a cover over it for about a year – which I am not going to do.

Watch this space for an update!

In the meantime, I feel I can’t leave you on my moan. After all, I am a “glass half full” sort of person in real life.

There are, of course, some major positives at the moment. The garden is full of birds. I have many Sarcococca, Daphne and my Japanese Prunus mume “Beni-chidori” in massive, scented flower. The overall structure has looked good in the Winter (and in the recent snow). The snowdrops are out, the daffodils and Camelias are coming into bud and the tulips are poking up from the soil. The roses, clematis and other plants are showing new buds and Spring is on its way-ish. The daylight hours are getting longer (slowly) and one day soon it will dry out and the sun will shine again on my flower-filled garden. I just need to deal with the weeds first!

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