Thursday, July 21, 2011

Shakespeare on Weeds

We weeded the centered circle this morning while it was still cool. It had rained at 5 A.M., so the ground was wet and the little boogers came out easily, but there are so many of them. With our energy spent getting ready for the Cousin Reunion, the work in the basement, and a lot of rain, the weeds have thrived at The Garden Spot and the only way to get rid of them is to just simply pull them one by one. And we are not done yet. We only did about half of the circle garden (actually it is rather tear dropped shape). William Shakespeare in Henry IV used weeds as a metaphor: "Now 'tis spring, and weeds are shallow-rooted; Suffer them now and they'll o'er grow the garden." While he was speaking of Henry's enemies, for gardeners, he offers sound advice to weed the garden. How do you control massive amounts of weeds from taking hold? Or perhaps you are far more vigilant weeders than we have been this summer.

 Yes, that is a day lily. There are 3 day Oakes day lilies that the Mr. bought last year, and they were costly and they are forced to live in the slums! 

My little garden around the patio is nearly weed free because I pull them as soon as I see them stick their ugly little heads up and I use Preen, a pre-emergent that keeps the weed seeds from germinating, and it works.

"O thou weed, who art so lovely fair and smell'st so sweet that the sense aches at thee, Would thou hadst ne'er been born. (Othello) 

Then we have plants that while they are beautiful in limited quantities, if left to their own, they become quite invasive. Take for example this beautiful Russian Sage. it smells so good, the bees love it, and the butterflies flock to it. I love to brush against it, releasing it sweet fragrance; however, it sends up shoots all over the garden which if left to grow, they would easily over take the garden, so the young sprouts must be pulled out and the mother plant must be cut back--rather dug back.

If I never planted another sunflower seed again, the wild ones would come--and that is exactly what happened this year: I planted 6 teddy bear sunflower seeds and only one seed sprouted, yet we have a nice variety of sunflowers around the garden.

And then there is this herb--cat nip, oregano? I don't know what it is, but it is taking over in the center garden and will have to be dug out. The bees love it, but it spreads so voraciously that it is quite hard to control. Hollyhocks, too, are quickly gaining weed status, for they are easy keepers and produce thousands of seeds which seem to go everywhere.

Some may love their herbs, but unless potted in pots where they can be contained, herbs quickly reach weed status, as least here in The Garden Spot.

 Not a Canadian thistle which some states require land owners to control, just a thistle that is tough to eradicate. 
 Weed or  Echinops?
Then we have the noxious weeds, the stubborn ones, the arrogant ones, the ones that spread uncontrollably: thistle, bindweed, and dandelions. For them, pulling them out only encourages their growth, so it's Roundup time. But what about this little guy? I have beautiful Echinops (Blue Globe thistle) which I think has reseeded itself for there are dozens of thistle looking sprouts. I am letting them mature until I can tell them from the noxious weeds. 

Bindweed is so annoying. If not caught early, it becomes really hard to manage. Here one gracefully winds itself around a rose. This one cannot be sprayed. How rude these ugly vines are.

This is milk weed was purposely transplanted from our old garden just for the monarch butterfly, but it must be carefully controlled because it can very invasive. It should be honored to live amongst the echinacea. I'd better see some monarch appreciate the sacrifice that I am making letting milk weed flourish in the garden.

See that big clump of green at the point of the center garden? Not a desirable; instead a huge clump of that oregano type what ever it is. Pretty bad when we have to haul trash cans on the EZ GO to load all the weeds that we had pulled today.

My plan for the front garden is to get it weeded and then spread a healthy dose of Preen to try to keep the weed population down. And while I may teach William Shakespeare's sonnets in my literature class, I must keep his wisdom in mind as I work the garden:

"Sweet flowers are slow and weeds make haste."...William Shakespeare Richard III


  1. Your garden is beautiful nonetheless. I almost had a car accident today watching a monarch flying amongst the cars. Hope you had a great reunion!

  2. I really love your garden. I don't see any weeds. Only beautiful flowers, landscape and healthy soil.

  3. Your garden is looking well, some good colour and foilage. I constantly fight with the weeds too. As its often chilly in ireland I have a ritual and getting a mug of tea and walking aroung the garden to spot weed and deadhead, helps keep things under control & really relaxing walking around with a cup of tea. I planted Teddy Bear Sunflowers this year and they are very slow to grow but looking forward to seeing them flower. Its great when flowers self seed as they can easily be pulled out but give free plants!

  4. Your flower bed is beautiful and I particularly like the sunflowers and the sage.

  5. Hi Ann! Love the Shakespeare!
    Bind weed is AWFUL! My neighbor has a lot of it. Russian Sage does entertain the bees and spreads all over! You're funny: the lily living in the slums! Are you growing vegetables?

  6. Hi Ann your circle garden is really lovely weeds and all! We came back after 5 weeksaway to find weeds ruling the lawn. awful!

  7. What would I do without my mother comparing her weed pulling in her garden with British literature? You know what I do with weeds. There is no mercy! As soon as I see them come up they are gone-whether it is before work or after work-if they are in my flower beds they are gonners! Nevertheless you write a beautiful story on weed pulling.

  8. My solution to weeds is simply to plant so tightly that weeds have no room to take hold!

  9. Ann... I agree with Mrs Bok...Your garden is cute as can be, even with the weeds. Gardening is both enjoyable and challenging. Thanks for posting about that Russian sage and the other invasive seed spreaders, those are good things to know.

    I'm currently searching for plants that behave themselves in the garden so that I can spend more time relaxing in it.

  10. Zone 5 upstate New York here. I found your blog via Kalipso's (Busy Bee). It IS amazing that her garden, yours and mine are full of similar plants in spite of being so far apart! Love the Shakespeare quotes about weeds. Lately we've had either non-stop rain OR severe heat so I haven't been able to weed much and they're really going nuts out there. I always say I'll get out there in the morning when it's cool, then get distracted by other people's online gardens. Maybe today...

  11. Hi again, Ann, and thank you for your detailed answer about your water lilies, and thanks for visiting my blog! Always nice to have new comments. I don't have so much as a horse trough yet but water lilies are definitely on my dream/ wish list. (And I did get a little weeding done yesterday!)