80411thumbWeeds always seem to have unfair advantages. While we pamper so many of our desirable plants to get them to grow and perform, weeds proliferate without help. They survive harsh conditions, inferior soil and some of the techniques we try to kill them with. They do not need much, if any water. They broadcast inordinate volumes of seed. They grow fast enough to overwhelm other plants.

This is the time of year when most weeds really get going. Like most other plants, they like the warming weather and moist soil of early spring. Many bloom and sow seed before summer weather gets too warm and dry in areas that do not get watered. Some that happen to be where they get watered may perpetuate second or third generations through summer! Weeds really are efficient!

However, the same pleasant weather that allows weeds to grow so efficiently also allows us to come out to work in the garden. The same soft rain moistened soil that the weeds enjoy so much also facilitates weeding. It will be more difficult to pull weeds later when the soil is drier, and roots are more dispersed. It is best to pull them before they sow seed for the next generation anyway.

Most of the annoying weeds are annuals or biennials. Some are perennials. A few weeds might be seedlings of substantial vines, shrubs or trees, like privet, acacia, eucalyptus or cane berries, especially the common and very nasty Himalayan blackberry. Cane berries have thorny stems that are unpleasant to handle, and perennial roots that must be dug. They can be very difficult to kill.

Tree and shrub seedlings should be pulled or dug out completely. Except for palms, most regenerate if merely cut above ground, and are very difficult to remove or kill the second time around. It is no coincidence that they tend to appear in the worst situations under utility cables and next to fences and other landscape features. Birds tend to perch in such spots as they eat the fruit from around large seeds that then get discarded, or as they deposit small seeds that were within small fruit and berries that they ate earlier.

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32 thoughts on “Weeds Want To Get Ahead

  1. It makes it feel a little bit better that the conditions that allow weeds to germinate are the same that get me into the garden. That makes it feel a little better that I spend a lot of time weeding! And I do like getting in and amongst.

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    1. People believe that horticulturists want to grow rare and unusual plants. However, as a horticulturist, I believe in growing what works, which often means what is easy to grow. I have grown nasturtiums since I was a kid, and grew then as the prominent flower on my former home in town. People knew that they were flashy from a distance, but could not believe that I would grow so much of something a lowly as the common nasturtium. In the background behind the nasturtiums, I grew the same geranium that I had grown since about junior high school, and it too was considered to be too lowly for the garden of a horticulturist. I know that there are prettier geraniums to grow, but they have too many problems, and are not as sustainable. If sustainability is to be a fad, we may as well do it properly, and grow plants that really are sustainable. I planted mine by simple sticking the cuttings wherever I wanted new plants. I purchased nothing and gave them no special treatment. Garden columnists who talk about sustainability and promote it should not also promoting plants that require extra water and chemicals. People can say what they want about my nasturtiums and geraniums. They still look better than fancier flowers.

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      1. I couldn’t agree more. Carol Klein is a garden writer I really admire because she always recommends species over fussy overbred varieties. You can’t beat a bank of nasturtiums and geraniums! I’d rather have health and vigour over rarity.

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      2. A few years ago, the yellow clivias became trendy because they were so rare. Now they are about as common as the ‘common’ orange clivias. Landscapers use them to show off, even if the bright orange clivias would be a better option. The also like to plant the formerly rare dawn redwood, regardless of the appropriateness to the landscape.

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  2. I had pretty much stuck with my favorite garden flowers, phlox, peony, hollyhocks, nasturtiums, French dwarf marigolds, geraniums, roses, daylilies, iris, and a few others. It was difficult when I found that my garden had been totally destroyed after I lost my house. I only have concrete and asphalt here with full sun all day which limits container plants because of the heavy watering necessary and no shade available. I still have weeds to contend with, the blasted things thrive in the cracks in the paving and between paving and concrete or brick walls. The grass (or what passes for grass) in front of the building is something of a problem, it’s in full shade, unlike the back and I’ve been recommending a shade loving ground cover to the landlord instead of all the fuss of trying to get the grass to look decent. It’s finding a good ground cover that doesn’t mind some salt and bitter winters.

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      1. Oh, not that kind of whopper. I just mean that it should bring us quite a bit of rain, with some good snow in the Sierra Nevada (where much of the water here comes from). It is not expected to be windy or damaging. However, flooding and mudslides are still a concern in Montecito, where the fires burned so much of the vegetation away last year. There has been considerable damage there with previous storms.

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  3. May garden is normally attacked by Dandelions. We have a small reservoir nearby owned by the local water company. They don’t look after the land and it is covered with dandelions. For a few days each summer it looks like it’s snowing. Looks nice until I realise the seeds are all over my garden!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. People here still plant Privet. There’s a couple of old ones in the hedge between us and our neighbors. I’ve been itching to take them out one dark night, then claim total ignorance of what happened to them.

    Liked by 1 person

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