You have not heard from me these last five weeks or so because of Internet connection problems.
We all have weeds. Although some, like dandelions and crabgrass, are common to us all, we also each have our particular weeds. Just like rhododendrons require acid soil, some weeds require the specific conditions we happen to have in each of our gardens. These are our very own weeds, different from those of our friends and fellow gardeners.
I have had just two gardens, and the weeds in my old garden and at Roche Fleurie are different, even if there is some overlap, broad-leaved dock (Rumex obtusifolius) is one of them. I have also known the gardens of numerous friends, and each garden also had its specific weeds.
For instance my friend Gwynne's vegetable garden is in full sun on a sandy south-facing slope, a spot where purslane (Portulaca oleracea) is king. Here at Roche Fleurie, a few summers ago I tried growing an improved, culinary variety of purslane (larger than the weed). It is supposed to be healthy and very good in salads. It was a disaster. It did not do well at all. It probably was a blessing in disguise as the only place I had seen that cultivated purslane grown was at the Montréal Botanical Garden (which includes a magnificent vegetable garden), and you could see it was difficult to control, having invaded all its neighbours.
In my old garden, the number one weed was "Lady's Thumb" (Polygonum persicaria). It came up everywhere. It had the advantage of being a slight plant you did not readily notice among others. However it was persistent, coming back all through the season.
At Roche Fleurie, the most common weed is what I think is a type of short sedge, which I have not yet identified. It is not very troublesome as it only grows from seed mostly in the spring, and if you have a good go at it early in the season, you might have a respite till next spring.
A more troublesome weed we also have, only sprouts under the snow and grows right after winter. It is a tiny thing, which is still unidentified and which I am convinced I brought in with some rock garden plant. Actually it has an attractive tiny foliage, but by the time the snow melts, there are literally hundreds of them where in the previous November not one was to be seen.
I do not include as weeds the plants we purposely bring in our gardens which turn out to be too successful. I have several small sedums that falls into that category.
Unexpectedly though, some of these plants can be very successful for some years and then peter out on their own. Still in the garden of my friend Gwynne, Johnny-jump-ups used to proliferate. I did not have any and wanted to establish it in my first garden. She would give me as much as I wanted, but it never took to my old garden. Recently, she told me that somehow they no longer self-seeded and are getting rare in her own garden. The same is true of Honesty, which used to turned part of her garden purple each spring. Well, it is also slowly disappearing!
Here at Roche Fleurie, Johnny-jump-ups self seed just nicely. It remains to be seen if they will eventually take off and become a nuisance or peter out as they eventually did at Gwynne's.
The way we weed is revealing about the type of garden we are used to. Many years ago on a visit, my mother helped me weed in the garden. Being used to gardening on sandy soil, she would grab a weed and pull on it. The garden was on clay, and weeds could not be just pulled out as on sand. They had to be pried out. If you simply pulled, the root did not come out.
My funniest experience with weeds happened the first year I was gardening. I saw a description of Dame's Rocket (Hesperis matronalis) and ordered some seeds. Plants duly appeared where I had planted my seeds, but I was convinced there was something wrong. What was growing where I planted Dame's Rocket was a "weed" that was everywhere along the community trail just outside the garden gate. It turned out that "weed" was indeed Dame's Rocket! The plant was already growing by the thousands just outside the garden gate!
I saw Dame's Rocket plants for sale in a garden center this spring. I was surprised because, however beautiful, it should not be planted as it chokes out native plants when it escapes cultivation and is very invasive in damp areas.
So what are some of your own weeds?