Flowers and Weeds

As I have mentioned many times previously, I am neither a talented, nor an enthusiastic gardener. But as we have a gravel driveway at the front of the house, neglecting the tiresome job of clearing the weeds that protrude through the gravel tends to make the house look unkempt, and unloved. The recent heavy rains and warm days have caused a veritable explosion of weed emergence, leaving the wide driveway looking decidedly scruffy. Despite an effort to spray the area last year, most of the weed-killer was caught on the stones, so did not penetrate deeply enough to do any good.

With my car away being repaired today, I decided to tackle the area where it is normally parked. This may not sound like much of a job on a sunny morning, but take it from me, it’s a hard one. Some of the grassy clumps have root-balls the size of my head, and even the spindly, forlorn-looking individual weeds have roots that seem to go down to Australia. Scraping, digging with a fork, bending down to collect the dislodged plant, then raking the earth and stones back into a tidy covering, it is exhausting work. And it isn’t the least bit enjoyable, despite what dedicated garden-lovers might have you believe.

After two and a bit hours, I had only managed to clear half of one side, and it was getting near the time for Ollie’s afternoon walk.I came inside for a bath, and was soon ready to head off over to the Meadows, and Hoe Rough. On the wander around, something struck me. I had spent a long and tiring time getting rid of things that were really just plants, grasses, and flowers. People spend lifetimes cultivating grasses, growing plants, and admiring flowers. Some of those so-called weeds that I had been flinging into the garden bin were actually quite appealing. There were those with attractively-shaped small leaves, others topped by tiny yellow flowers. One that caught my eye had a minute purple flower, although the body of the plant underneath was spindly, and had little substance. There were the ubiquitous Dandelions too, stubbornly holding on to their place, tuberous roots requiring more effort to remove than would seem necessary, given the size of the plant.

I pondered about when it was decided that some things should be called weeds, and deemed to be undesirable, and others be applauded as plants and shrubs, and be considered essential to have in the garden. Who were the people making these decisions, and when did it all start? Why is the bright yellow flower of a Dandelion considered less of a bloom than any other yellow-headed flower? Why is one type of arrow-leafed creeping plant deemed to be a ‘creeping menace’, yet the same thing with dark red leaves is sold as ‘ground-cover’? And why do we spend good money on ornamental grasses, whilst at the same time digging up the not-unattractive large grasses that grow naturally?

Perhaps we should think again, and begin to embrace the humble weed. They require little effort to cultivate, will grow in the poorest soil, and need no fertilizers. And as as a real bonus, they also don’t need to be ‘weeded’.

Let’s start a new trend. Natural gardens, with the plants that really want to be in them.

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36 thoughts on “Flowers and Weeds

  1. “Natural gardens, with the plants that really want to be in them.” Over the last 20 years, a gum tree, several elm trees, four fruit trees, a peppercorn, and some type of palm tree decided to flourish in my garden. None would be there if I was a weeder.

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  2. πŸ™‚ I wrote about weeds last year, saying much the same thing: https://ripplesinthewind.wordpress.com/2014/06/12/consider-how-the-wildflowers-grow/ In my case it was the combination of their beauty and their reckless abandon that arrested me.

    This year, I have done more weeding than ever before – partly because I have been well enough to do so and partly because we have a somewhat larger vegetable patch. There, weeds are not so welcome and one certainly begins to appreciate their invasive nature when one observes that the ‘weeds’ in the vegetable patch this year look exactly the same as the ones I was too lazy to pull out last year… as well as the ones growing up beside the hedge and in the cracks of the pavings.

    These days, I tend to take a live and let live approach to the dandelions, daisies, clover and other random wildflowers that grow up in the lawn. They are bright and cheerful and the bees and butterflies like them. But I do try not to let the dandelions go to seed, for obvious reasons…

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    1. Thanks Ros, I will look at your link.
      The paving slabs are another bind. I have a curved tool that scrapes in between them to raise the weeds, but it also seems to serve to cultivate the area for better growth next time!
      Best wishes, Pete.

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      1. Lol. The dandelions that grow up beside our house are the biggest challenge because their roots are ungettatable (is that a word?). Maybe I should try Laura’s hot water? They grow in the ever widening gap that has been carefully cultivated by the ants that nest under the house somewhere and occasionally find their way in through the brickwork. I used to joke that they had a Plan and one day the whole house would fall into a pit of their making…

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  3. I’ve always thought weeds should be embraced wholeheartedly because some are very attractive, as you say. I guess weeds that destroy other flowers are the ones to get rid of. It’s still hard work, though!

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  4. Ah, you’re speaking of my favorite (but sometimes hated) hobby…gardening! It’s hard to maintain a garden but when you see flowers bloom, it’s a reward in itself.

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  5. I suspect this new trend for a ‘natural’ garden is due to the aching muscles from today’s workout. Weeds are indeed flowers in the wrong place and also usually invasive too. I think you’d soon get fed-up with your weed infested gravel πŸ˜€

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    1. Looks as if I have been rumbled! OK, I don’t like clearing them. But the bit about some of them looking quite nice was actually true. Perhaps you should photograph some nice ones Jude?
      Regards as always, Pete. x

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        1. Had a look at the photos Jude, all very good indeed. I don’t have anything like these, except Violets, which I actually planted in honour of my Mum, as her name was Violet.
          Regards as always, Pete. x

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  6. Some weeds are indeed attractive, but they are also invasive. However, not all invasive plants are weeds. Bamboo is invasive, for example. Have you considered pouring concrete? I do support Laura’s suggestion that you pour hot boiling water on your weeds. I think the effort to rid yourself of weeds is at the root of your suggestion that we learn to accommodate them.

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    1. Not sure about concrete, but Bamboo sounds like a plan David. I could get a pet panda!
      (Yes you are right about the root of my suggestion, and I got the pun…)
      Best wishes as always, Pete.

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  7. Let em grow, let em grow, let em grow! Dandelions are good for a brew with burdock and 100 or so heads will make an elixir to ward off winter colds, plus they are good for the bees when little else is in flower. Dig them up if you must, but shame on anyone who bins the offender, especially to the local dump! Compost them, along with all your other so called ‘waste’ save the landfill and make your own free compost for the future when you start to plant things πŸ™‚

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    1. They’re not dumped in landfill Eddy, at least not in Norfolk. They go in a special garden waste wheelie bin (It costs Β£38 a year, our bit for the Greens…) and the contents are taken to a facility where it is turned into compost to be used in public parks, and council gardens. I’m not sure about 100 dandelion heads and that cold elixir. I tend to buy tablets from Tesco when I have the sniffles mate.
      Cheers old bean. Pete.

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  8. Oh, Pete, you do make me smile! And I, too, have dastardly weeds on the drive…been meaning to sort them out for a few days, but I just don’t haVe the energy at present….

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  9. πŸ™‚ Sounds good, dear Pete; “Natural gardens, with the plants that really want to be in them”, but I’m afraid it will look, well a bit, untidy. πŸ˜‰ Weeds are flowers, only in the wrong spot, Siri & Selma say. They have quite a big garden to look after, but it’s utterly amazing how much time we spend gardening = removing weed, grass etc and every week we have a carload for the waste disposal centre. Sigh. Little time to just sit and enjoy, I’m afraid.
    Last week we tried to eat some the weed. I read about all the goodies one can make with Alexander, but honestly … The taste is great, but too much work and chewing and spitting. πŸ™‚
    Bonn is boiling hot today, hope you are getting great weather for the weekend as well.
    Big hug for Ollie,
    Dina Xx

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    1. Thanks Dina. ‘Flowers, but in the wrong spot’, is a good way of looking at weeds, I suppose.
      It was very warm earlier today, but there is cooler weather tomorrow, and rain on Sunday. A typical British Bank Holiday! Love from Beetley, Pete and Ollie. X

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  10. Pete, bravo to ya.. I totally agree with you on the weed issue. Most are really quite pretty, and I have some too toward the back of my yard. Violets, White trout Lilly growing happily there and flowering with such a sweet white flower. I use to mow over these plants we call weeds, until last year. I guided them where I wanted them to grow and now they brighten up the back yard… a mixture of Hot water and vinegar might help you with your gravel weeds in the front.. as vinegar is very cheap and will do the job nicely, killing the weeds right down to the roots… Actually, using just hot (boiled) water will kill the dandelions right down to the roots..

    Take care and happy weeding to ya, from Laura ~

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    1. Laura, I discovered that hot boiling water kills weeds about 30 years ago. I see people buying chemical products all the time, and yet they are not as effective in eradicating weeds. I was unaware of the benefits of vinegar, so I appreciate that bit of information.

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      1. lividermerald2013, you’re most welcome.. I am always seen carrying my tea kettle outside at this time of year… or using my watering can with the added vinegar.. just be careful to dose just the weeds… happy weeding to ya, from Laura

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