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.