Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Weeds of Summer

I always start with a relatively weed-free garden, then as the season progresses and things are up and growing, the weeds make a strong comeback. I read about a gardener who doesn't bother much with weeding once her plants are knee-high or taller. Her reasoning is sound - tall plants prevent sunlight from reaching the weeds below and a bunch of tall plants crowd out any chance of weeds taking over - but the reality of it happening is flawed.

Weeds have a magnificent way of surviving no matter what we do to them. I think purslane (Portulaca oleracea) would survive a nuclear blast. Common lambsquarters (Chenopodium album) loves rich soil so much that it doesn't need an invitation to sprout in every new flower bed and vegetable patch I prepare. Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), a common perennial weed, with its underground creeping stems doesn't care in the least about what it's creeping up on. Let Canadian thistle (Cirsium arvense) get established and you might have to dig 20 feet down to find its taproot. What will you dig that out with, eh?

It's all a part of growing stuff isn't it? You could stop gardening altogether and let the weeds take over. I have three hosta beds that I've neglected all summer, I had plans of transplanting everything to a new home, but then I'd just have to worry about weeding that area too. It seems to me that when left to their own accord, both weeds and what we grow as ornamentals get along together just fine. We're the ones who don't like their living arrangements.

Johnsongrass (Sorghum halepense) is considered an invasive weed in Pennsylvania. This particular clump is managed as ornamental grass in my wife's herb garden.

This strand of bindweed is havin a lot of fun vining up a large clump of zebra grass. I haven't noticed any bud formation so I'm not sure if it's wild morning glory, or some other member of the flowering convolvulus family. Weed lady and author Nancy Gift ("A Weed By Any Other Name") allows this perennial vine to climb on its own personal trellis.

The weeds of summer are green, and that color alone makes them an important part of my total gardening experience. Someone said "weed it and reap" and that's what I do.

About a week ago, Felder Rushing paid us a quick visit.

This is his idea of a traveling garden. Pretty cool ain't it?
(Click on the photos for a larger view.)

12 comments:

On a limb with Claudia said...

We use soaker hoses so we don't get too many weeds. This year there's been so much, so much, so much rain, that we're weeding a lot more. GAAH!

That's a wicked cool traveling garden!

OhKate said...

Crab grass! grrrrr...

Frances said...

Oh TC, that is just fantastic, the traveling garden, complete with glass art. Living with weeds is part of my philosphy. There is no way to eradicate them all permanently as long as the wind blows and the birds do their business. I want the birds and the wind and agree with the knee high criteria. It is getting these beds to that point that is difficult. The solution, plant taller stuff! Sorry Dianthus.
Frances

Luisa Perkins said...

I love the traveling garden. Awesome.

I need to weed my vegetable beds in the worst way....

GardenGal said...

I enjoy reading your blog and have added it to my list of blogs that I am following.

GardenGal

Susie said...

Before I saw the pic I was wondering if he drove the truck with the garden in the back. Thanks for posting a picture of it. It really is a pretty flower bed.

Terri said...

Love the pick-up garden! Oh, and we have weed issues here, too - I need to get out and weed the "deckens" out of all the beds, but I just don't have the time! Oh, well - weeds need love, too!

troutbirder said...

A traveling garden .... who would have thought? Weeds drive me crazy and to desperate measures. I need to work on you relaxed attitude!

Esther Montgomery said...

I find it works the other way too. I have had awful trouble with slugs this year - masses of plants eaten to nothingness.

Then I had a spare runner bean plant so I planted it to run wild along the ground. The slugs have left it alone and it's even flowering at earth level.

A visitor, this morning, complemented me on the interesting grass flowering at the front of the house. "Very special," I agreed. It arrived of its own accord and clearly likes it there.

Plants as weeds - weeds as flowers. It just happens.

Esther

P.S. And I just happened to pull all the convolvulus off the apple tree and blackcurrant bushes. (When I remember.)

TC said...

Ms. Claudia: Weeding is a chore that never ends!

Ms. Kate: And arrgghhh!!

Ms. Frances: I so want Felder's sculptress to do a piece or two for me. I'll have to ask him about her fees.

Ms. Luisa: I hope you've weeded by now so that the "worst way" is over. ;~)

Hello Ms. GardenGal! Thanks for following my blog. Good to see you here and at Doug and Jess' forum too.

Ms. Susie: I don't think you'll find anyone with a truck bed garden. Leave it to Felder!

Ms. Terri: His truck bed garden is prettier than most flower bed gardens I've seen, including my own!

Troutbirder: Good to see you. My relaxed attitude towards weeds isn't always so relaxed. Sometimes "desperate measures" are taken here too. Fortunately, those times are far and few between.

Ms. Esther: You brought up a good point: "Plants as weeds - weeds as flowers": a dichotomy.

Lola said...

A prize in the truck bed. I've never seen anything like it.
We've had a lot of rain here that has about put all under. I need to weed bad, but will have to wait till I finish with my eye surgeries.

walk2write said...

Hey, TC, if Mr. Rushing ever feels like visiting NW FL, tell him he's welcome here. So are you and your family, by the way. Weeds? Ruellia just joined that category in my garden, lovely louts that they are!