Sunday, April 15, 2012


I recently read a quote by the writer Robert Fulgham who said:  "If dandelions were rare and fragile, people would knock themselves out to pay $14.95 a plant, raise them by hand in greenhouses, and form dandelion societies and all that. But, they are everywhere and don't need us and kind of do what they please. So we call them weeds and murder them at every opportunity".

Yep, that's certainly the case at my house.  The other day my beloved and I spent an afternoon sitting out on the lawn digging out dandelions.  We filled a five gallon bucket about three times. Now we have a pristine front lawn uninterrupted by weeds.  Is this an improvement?  I suppose it depends on your point of view.

Last year I had quite the adventure trying to identify a plant in my back yard.  I took samples of it to a few different nurseries.  I scoured stacks and stacks of gardening books.  I asked every gardening friend I could think of, but no one knew what it was.

The plant finally showed up in a book chronically Idaho noxious weeds.  (Imagine my chagrin!  I had been digging up starts and sharing it with everyone who had admired its beauty.) It was Policeman's Helmet,  which the agriculture department says does not yet grow in Boise.  I've got news for them.  Even though I pulled all mine out, I suspect some of the people I shared it with did not. As lovely as the plant was, having it named noxious made me feel the equivalent shame as if I'd spread gardening herpes.

I've heard that by definition a "weed" is any plant growing where it is not wanted.  That seems a rather arrogant perspective to me.  Still, in my own little space I do get to pick which plants will be nurtured and which will be eradicated.  Currently I am doing battle with spurge.

The suggested management of the weed is prevention, "since controlling these weeds is very difficult once plants have established themselves."  They've got that right.   No matter how many I pull out, it seems there are six more coming up.   So I've become rather Zen about the whole thing.  Evey day that the weather is nice I go out and do my spurge hunt, with no illusion whatsoever that I'm winning the battle, but rather maintaining order, like making my bed.  I know darn well I'll do it all over again the next day.  But keeping up with it somehow feels more tidy.

On the other hand, my Siberian Bugloss (Brunnera) is spreading like crazy and I couldn't be more delighted.  I especially like the variegated variety which I only have two small clumps of, but even the more common one that is proliferating aggressively in my shade garden is so lovely I wouldn't dream of naming it "invasive".   I guess it really is all a matter of perspective.

1 comment:

  1. I've not heard of, nor seen, policeman's helmet. I'll keep an eye out! If you're offered it, don't buy Fens Ruby, that's a plant I've needed to get "Zen" over as I try to rid my garden of it. Love your brunnera. A friend at work gave me some plants, I hope I don't kill them.