Monday, April 18, 2016

What to keep and what not to keep

A week ago I was complaining about winter, forgetting that in our climate we normally go from winter to summer. A week ago there was a foot of snow, but the last 6 days or so have been sunny and warm, the swallows are back, so are the frogs and you can work outside in shirt sleeves.

Days that follow the final melting of snow are important weeding days. Because the ground is still wet and most plants are half comatose after the long winter, pulling a weed (or digging out a plant to move it) is much easier than it will be in just a few weeks. The weeding you take half an hour to do just after the winter, takes several hours at other times of the year.





My problem while weeding at this time of the year is figuring what to keep - not  among weeds, but among volunteers, the plants that have self seeded.  I like plants that self seed. These by nature tend to be rather too exuberant and have to be closely kept in check.  You want to get something like the following picture,



but you do not want every bed in the garden to be taken over by the bright red Papaver rhoeas in the picture. To do so, you need  to recognize annual poppies at this stage and get rid of most of them. This is what they look like just now.



While I am now killing thousands of them, I will be seeding more in a week or so! The ones above that sprouted last fall and survived the winter will all bloom together. The ones I am about to seed, will bloom two or three weeks later, thus extending the season.

Unfortunately, all annual poppies look alike at this stage, so among the casualties of my large scale destruction will be some like these, that is to say doubles, and Shirleys.


But I have saved seeds of these and will get something similar, but only from the seeds I am about to plant. Any that had volunteered last fall will mostly have been destroyed.

Many self seeders, for instance, Scotch thistle (Onopordum acanthium), I get rid of completely or keep only  one or two. I get rid of all blue creeping Veronicas that appear here and there. They usually have hybridized and do not look as good as the parents. They are already in bloom.
 



One year, a few escaped me but, as is often the case, it turned out the veronica had decided to grow in the perfect spot. Don't they look good through the perennial candytuft (Iberis sempervirens)?


In this garden, there are many other self seeders that have to be kept under control. These include creeping thyme, Lady's Mantle, verbascum cultivars, Phlomis, Rumex sanguineus, etc.  Most are easy to spot and remove, sometimes to pot up for a plant exchange.

Any self seeders you have to keep an eye on in your own garden?


30 comments:

  1. Seemed to go from winter to summer here too! As for volunteers, Maria likes them, so we've kept FAR TOO MANY! But my challenge is identifying them and the weeds at this time of year. They all seem to look the same to me. At any rate, a lot of things are coming out this year!

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    1. We have about the same climate. You might be slightly more "continental" than we are which would make us colder in the spring and warmer in the fall.

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  2. I am also fond of plants that self-sow - but it does lead to dilemmas. I have to remove many of the Celandine Poppies, though it goes against the grain to do so.

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    1. I also had to remove lots of Celandine poppies in my old garden in town but here they barely survive.

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  3. I agree: The volunteers are a special lot. But they often take root in the weirdest places. I'm surprised that your Veronicas are blooming already. You have quite a few attractive Poppy varieties.

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    1. The creeping Veronica are very early. Their parents, the plants I initially bought, bloom much later. However they seem to produce these offspring which are not as attractive as the parents and bloom much earlier. It is a mystery.

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  4. I love plants self seeding, but you do need to be in control!Where would I be without my snakeshead fritillaries, or foxgloves, forget me nots,primroses, snowdrops,bluebells and many more!

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    1. Many people mention foxgloves as self seeders. I only wish they did self seed here. Actually one of them does self seed but it is Digitalis lutea.

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  5. I like self-seeders particularly when they seed into "hostile" areas where other plants which have been placed have failed.

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  6. I have not many self seeders Alain, but I like veronica as well. I have digitalis and margaritas as self seeders, but not every year, it depends of winter and cold. Love your papavers!

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    1. I do not know margaritas - or most know them under a different name.

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  7. I have a few asters that self seed to the point where they'd be the only plant in my garden if I didn't pull all the seedlings. But I do respect their enthusiasm. :o)

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    1. Asters are also enthusiastic here.

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    2. Asters are also quite enthusiastic here.

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  8. I have a weak spot for the self seeders as well. Verbena bonariensis, oxeye daisies, and sunflowers would take over the garden the minute I turned my back...

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    1. Verbena bonariensis do volunteer here but since with are at the limit of their range, they are not as vigorous.

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  9. I like the self seeders, but I just wish they would consult me before they plant themselves! I used to have a lot less years ago when I was an inexperienced gardener and weed seedlings and plant seedlings looked just the same - so they all came out!

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    1. You want to have our cake and eat it too Jane!

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  10. Not too many self seeders, though there are some plants I wish would seed themselves about. I tend to have creepers that just keep on creepin'

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    1. I know what you mean about creeper - they can be just as invasive as self seeders.

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  11. Hello Alain, we have Forget-me-nots that I have noticed spreading dramatically year after year. They look very beautiful at this time of year when they're in flower. I would rather have them than weeks. In the front we have a border edged with creeping thyme onto the gravel drive. The thyme is doing as advertised and hundreds of seedlings are gradually creeping forward. At this stage I'm not inclined to weed either.

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    1. A man after my own heart. I also like forget-me-not but many gardeners do not. They seem so easy to control and are so attractive and accommodating (you can move them any time and they keep on blooming)!

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  12. Hello Alain : ) I have much to do in my gardens (guilt guilt) LOL
    I don't have many volunteers at all .. I guess I weed too much ?
    I can't wait to so those Shirley poppies !!! I am so looking forward to see if they like my garden and will smile for me .. Thank you so much again : )
    Joy

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    1. Do not worry, none of us can do all the things we would like to do in the garden, especially at this time of the year.

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  13. Creeping Veronica or speedwell is a weed on our vegetable plot. In the garden the most troublesome self seeder is the violet. We started with one plant and now they are everywhere.

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    1. The Creeping Veronica I bought have never been weedy but then there is the one pictured above which is very weedy. It might be an hybrid of the one I bought or I brought the seeds in with some plants.

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  14. This year the most prolific self-seeder in my garden is the Primula. I must have more than 100 of them. I will pot some up for the exchange and keep some. I would not consider them a weed, but almost!
    The Creeping Veronica has always to be dealt with severely too.
    The other prolific self-seeder is Coreopsis.

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  15. Lucky you! Is it the primula veris, the cowslip? I have seen them spread around here but not in this garden where they only survive.

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  16. I am not sure what the variety is. There was a maroon one with a g\yellow throat there last year , but veris seems more likely although all the ones in my garden are polyanthus types. I will just have to await the bloom and be surprised!

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