I’m getting wheelbarrows, many wheelbarrows, full of weeds from the perennial beds, to dump into the ravine at the edge of the property. This is an unused ditch which at times has some ground water moving slowly down it; throwing unwanted plants “over the bank” is not going to be any trouble to anyone.
Or so I say. Down in the ditch there is a terrific stand of … you guessed it … comfrey. There is also some horseradish, bishop’s gout weed, valerian, tansy, creeping charlie, and a host of native plants or common “weeds”. There are beautiful things like thimbleberry and wild raspberry, a discarded corkscrew willow, and maybe some other things that are also not noxious.
Once in a while, I find something like a lily or a tulip blooming down there. Many times that I am “digging out” perennial beds, I just do not have the patience, strength, or powers of observation to rescue every precious plant that I might have actually paid good money for. I know that I’ve sent a number of these over the bank along with huge clumps of quack grass, or shovels full of weedy, wet clay. I just can’t shake all the soil out of these messes.
As I work, I think about “criteria”. Sometimes I go with the allowed/not allowed concept. So … lilies are allowed “here”, but perennial geranium is not. Or, a sprawling shrub is permitted to take up some space (but not too much), and only a certain thing like lily-of-the-valley is encouraged to grow under it. If a perennial plant is invasive, it might still rate a designated space, but can’t be allowed to take over the more delicate specimens: as my friend used to say, “Control it … with a shovel!”.
Also, there is the concept of collateral damage. At times it is impossible to extricate the precious items from the weeds. If an area is out of control, I pretty much have to start from scratch, digging right down to the blue clay, separating any loose soil, or lovely earthworms to add back into the garden. But much of it? Over the bank. Gary has even called some of these casualties “sacrificial lambs”. Some things have to be sacrificed for the good of all … or maybe that is a kind of garden politics. Communist? Fascist?
Sometimes I look back and think, “Oh, there used to be a veronica or a phlox there …”, but there may be no sign of it today. (Might be over the bank!). At other times, there’s a “Eureka!” moment, and I’ll separate a beautiful stalk or root of a plant that, by some miracle, has survived being choked with weeds and subjected to drought. Therefore, along with the earthworms and the occasional toad, they will be gently replaced, protected, and sometimes labelled (okay, not the worms and toads).
I’m very interested in SIMPLIFYING. I was going to return some of the flower beds back to lawn for Gary to mow. But I keep finding plants I want to keep/save/restore, and it is hard to consolidate. I am getting more discerning though.
Occasionally, I find a plant in the mess that I can’t identify. This is a single plant that I wasn’t sure was not weed, but I carefully transplanted it in case when it bloomed, it would seem familiar. I still don’t recognize it! Still glad I saved it.
My workout today transformed something like this:
To something like this:
The bare ground under the sprawling variegated dogwood is not that attractive either, but soon some lilies will bloom, and other flowering perennials such as peonies, monkshood, delphinium, geranium, iris, ligularia and more. Both Gary and I look forward to all of it.
Gary takes very good care of the vegetable garden. I always intend to help weed there, but end up mostly involved at harvest and processing time.
The large crop you see is all the garlic.
If I hadn’t got rained on (or rained IN) several times today, I would have got more accomplished. Even so, I made some good headway and feel tonight as if I’ve really worked out. Tomorrow I didn’t schedule any pet grooming and hope to get back at the guerrilla (take no prisoners!) gardening.