Sunday, May 4, 2014

Good Weed - Bad Weed or Right Plant - Wrong Place

It's weed season at Frogpond.  Even in a dry spring (there's an oxymoron for you) after an almost rainless winter, the weeds still come.  This virulent ocean of growth, as always, is aggressively taking over every pathway, all the gardens, the sides of the drive, and the hillsides around the house.  They even poke up through the cracks of the deck.  

And, by and large, they aren't "nice" weeds, but a nasty villainous lot, eager to take over the planet.  There are the ones with leaves that sting (nettles),  scratch (thistle),  stink (stinkweed, vinegar weed) or spread goo on you if you touch them (tarweed, poison oak).  Then there are the ones with seeds that grab hold of your socks and get stuck in the animals fur (sticktights, filleree, and foxtail).  Rounding the pack of worst offenders are the ones that are more benign than the ones already mentioned, but which grow so large and rampantly that they smother out everything else in their vicinity and become increasingly harder to remove as they gain in size (milkweed, dock, mallow).  It's always a losing race against time as we try to remove as many as possible before they set seed.

Weeding all of this consumes our spring every single year.  Even, as it turns out, in ones without rain.  
Bruce is in charge of mowing down the farther-out crop with his Kubota, while I work on the ones closer to the house by hand.  It's slow work, made more difficult this year by ground that's already dry and hard.

The complication:   What slows us down to a crawl in our mowing/ripping out of weeds is that they are joined by an unruly host of other plants that we like.  Like so much, in fact, that we go to great lengths to not remove them along with the ones we're happy to murder.  So Bruce will carefully mow around as many wildflowers as possible, making paths that zig-zag all over the place as he swerves around clumps of lupins, California poppies and the like.  The mown trails always look like they were made by someone in the tractor seat who'd swilled several caseloads of beer.

My problem is similar to Bruce's, except it's my hands rather than the tractor blade that must avoid taking out what we want to have stay.  I have all the wildflowers to look out for, but they are joined by enthusiastic garden escapees that sprout in all the wrong places.  I dig up and replant what I can, but haven't the time nor energy to get them all.  Actually, I haven't the garden space for them either.  So I try to weed around most of them rather than rip them up with everything else.  
Lamb's Ears
Field Poppy
Here's a sampling of what I'm working around just in the area on two sides of the house.

Purple Poppy and Hollyhock


Perennial Sweet Peas and CA Poppies

Keys of Heaven


Mexican Poppies


The question:  Why do these plants (smothered by weeds, occasionally stepped on and generally mistreated) thrive as well as their brethren safely in the fold of the garden?  It's a mystery.

Actually, I think it's a jolly plot to drive me nuts.  It's working.

Dill with good friend French Marigold


  1. Yeah, I do the same thing with the flowers or herbs or whatever I like in the yard & gardens. Husband, however, is much less patient than I and if it's in his direct mowing path, it's history, so I try to get out there before he mows so I can transplant stuff :)

  2. I'll admit that as the weed season wears on, I become a lot more ruthless about getting rid of everything within reach of my clutching fingers.