Six on Saturday: Wild and Weedy

What makes a weed? We might tend to think of weeds as being plants we don’t want in our garden, plants we haven’t planted and certainly not planted in the places where they appear. This could include both wild flowers and grasses as well as the more profligate self-seeders amongst our own cultivated plants perhaps. Today I thought I would pick out the six worst ‘offenders’ for my Six on Saturday offering for Jon the Propagator’s weekly meme. They will not strictly be the worst, as I am not including the perhaps inevitable presence of dandelions, couch grass, bindweed and ground elder. The first two of these appear throughout the garden but the latter sneak in under the fence stretching from the main borders to the fruit cage and but so far restricted to that boundary.

The first of my six is the mock strawberry, above, Potentilla indica, which has been in evidence since we first came here 25 years ago but which is increasing, not helped by needing a trowel to remove it. I used to think it was a wild strawberry and edible; sadly it isn’t! Equally intractable is creeping woodsorrel, Oxalis corniculata, which used to be confined to the rose garden but is now appearing throughout the garden; at one time I tried to remove them before they flowered and the seeds ripened, but I am rather negligent these days!

Pooping up everywhere is this rose bay willowherb relative, an epilobium of some sort. Usually evident and easily removed by hand when they are small, sometimes they appear in a border and grow to a sizeable and healthy plant before their cover is blown. The seeds on the one below are just about ready to pop:

Early on in the life of the woodland I decided I had had enough of the yellow archangel, Lamium galeobdolon, and waged a war on it; with shallow roots it is fairly easy to pull out but the smallest stolon fragment with just one pair of leaves can grow into a new colony, and stolons break readily and it can quickly carpet an area to the exclusion of other plants. In the UK it is now an offence to plant or otherwise cause to grow these species in the wild. Mine has spread again so the war will continue, but here is a prettier white version which may or may not be a ‘dead nettle’

I was pleased at first to see these violets appearing in the garden, but now they have increased exponentially I am less pleased with them, especially when they rarely flower:

I am including Herb Robert or Geranium robertianum as my sixth because it is widespread throughout the garden, but I have a completely different relationship with it, perhaps because it is a geranium? It romps happily in the woodland and pops up here and there but mostly I will let it be although it is easily pulled out if it appears in a border or anywhere else it overstays its welcome. Every so often a white flowered example appears instead of the pink, which is always good to see.

I was going to include some of the potentially thuggish self-seeders too, but they will easily fill up another post so I will stick with just these wild and weedy ones for today!

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28 Responses to Six on Saturday: Wild and Weedy

  1. bcparkison says:

    Oh goodness…You could be in my garden. It is never ending….the weeds that is.

    • Cathy says:

      Usually I just ignore them – until the end of summer and perennials die down, and then again in the spring as things start to come into growth. I meant to say in the post that generally I just live with them for much of the year!

  2. janesmudgeegarden says:

    Strangely enough, I was thinking about doing a post about worst weeds. It’s hard to choose, but I think mine is spotted spurge which makes itself abundantly present in my garden when the warm weather comes. It is very low growing, and has a nasty milky sap.

    • Cathy says:

      We have a relative abundance of another sort of spurge, but fortunately without the sap I think – another one that’s easy to pull out if I get the urge. Not sure if I could say which is the worst of our weeds…πŸ˜‰

  3. I know this is not a competition πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚
    but I feel I can trump your weeds (I have all of them too) with mares tail – I am a loss on how to deal with it. Thick planting and constant weeding helps in the borders, but that doesn’t take care of paths – it is even breaking though the tarmac in the pavement outside my garden.

  4. tonytomeo says:

    That weird geranium is common here, but I never had a problem with it elsewhere. In fact, it is rather rare. I saw some of it in landscapes in San Francisco, but had no idea of what it was, or if it actually belonged there.
    Although I like violets, those that I planted in a former home were white, which is not a good color for violets. White is my favorite color, but looks like bird poop among violets. I could not get rid of the violets after that.
    White is a better color for that weed that might be a dead nettle.

  5. Interesting; I have most of these in my garden, too, although some are native and others aren’t winter-hardy. The first one, the Mock Strawberry, however, is not native, reappears every year, and seems to be more prevalent this summer. It’s mainly growing in the lawn and at the edge of the woods; maybe more mowing during a rainier year will reduce its presence. I have the Oxalis in pots, so I really like it when it’s under control. I don’t know that it would survive our winters here, anyway.

    • Cathy says:

      The oxalis is at least pretty, I agree, but I can now see how quickly it spreads – does it not ping the seeds out to the area round your pots?

  6. Heyjude says:

    I have most of these too, but instead of the lamium I have hedge woundwort which spreads by runners. it smells awful, but is fairly easy to pull out if I get it young. And those violets are everywhere this year – in my courtyard in the gravel and in all my pots, it is a devil to pull out. I never knew there were so many weeds until I moved here! But of course surrounded by countryside and a farmyard that is rarely cleared I am fighting a losing battle. A good topic for the SOS I did a couple of posts on weeds a couple of years ago. The ones I hate and the ones I am prepared to give (some) room to!

    • Cathy says:

      I have Googled hedge woundwort and of course it mentions the smell πŸ˜‰ – although the flowers almost look pretty…! I think I need to continue the topic because, as you say, some we may be pprepared to give room to (like Herb Robert), but there are also other self seeding cultivated plants that easily take on weed status!

      • Heyjude says:

        Hedge woundwort is quite pretty and bees also like it, so I do allow some to grow in the back of the garden. I don’t think I can ever get rid of Herb Robert and the Baby’s tears (Soleirolia soleirolii) is useful, but also a thug!

        • Cathy says:

          No Baby’s tears here and I don’t think I would want to get rid of Herb Robert although my little woodland is a perfectly acceptable place for it to be anyway πŸ˜‰ I wonder if hedge woundwort grows around here, but I can’t say I have noticed it on any of my walks

  7. Cathy I fully understand your anger at weeds. My garden, when it was cared for, had most of yours and many more. There came a time when I got tired of removing them from all over the place and only doing it from the beds of delicate flower plants. The rest cut them with the mower very very short around hedges and fences of climbing plants, rose bushes and trees. Now it will be a jungle of weeds and brambles !!! Cathy loved your weed blog. Take care. Very affectionate greetings from Margarita.

    • Cathy says:

      I rarely do any weeding, Margarita, and tend to live with them until later in the year and things die down. You must miss your summer garden so much

      • Yes, Cathy I miss him a lot. This year things have gone wrong and I don’t think we’re going to go see the country house to see how it is, because we haven’t been there for two years. Hopefully next year things go well and without medical problems, and we can spend at least two months in the country house with its garden turned into a jungle of weeds and brambles: I will love them just to see the views that are enjoyed from the garden to the expanses of field with high hills that look like mountains through which the sun hides at dusk, having wonderful colors in the sky, I love them. Thanks Cathy. Happy week.

  8. Anna says:

    I think that the first two have still to make their debut in my garden Cathy but we more or less share the others πŸ˜‚ I decided a long time ago though that I would never be able to keep weeds out as the land behind us has been uncultivated for many years. Margery Fish was responsible for me planting the variegated leaved version of the lamium – a BIG mistake! The bane of my life though is marestail – a super weed if ever there was one!

  9. PΓ‘draig says:

    Thank you for a lovely post, Cathy. Its a reminder to me that we are but minders of the land. We may keep things in check, but with many years of DNA developments, these plants will win the day!
    If there isn’t a Happy Weed Day, there should be!

  10. Cathy says:

    It is really interesting to see what weeds other people have! I had all of these in my last garden, but the new one is completely different. Herb Robert is pretty, especially in autumn, and so easy to pull up. Here I have buttercups, wild achillea and thistles!

    • Cathy says:

      Ah, creeping buttercup, I have that too, and occasionally wild achillea. When I had manure from a friend’s horse I briefly had hogweed and ragwort!

  11. Pauline says:

    So nice to see tha other people have problems with weeds, I pull out herb robert whenever I see it and we seem to have plenty of it. Violets are everywhere, so they get pulled out too, along with wood avens whose seeds all stick to your clothes. with all the rain we have had, the weeds are twice the size so thankfully easy to spot!

    • Cathy says:

      Had to check out wood avens and it’s not something I have, although Geum rivale perhaps makes up for that as it sets seed prolifically and I have now removed the parent plants too – definitely one for my plant regret list!

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