Any honest gardener will probably admit to an ongoing battle with weeds. But what is a weed? The common definition is that it's a plant growing where it's not wanted, usually vigorously and often to the detriment of plants the gardener values more highly. The definition is situation-specific and therefore there are as many disagreements as to what's a weed as there are agreements. I've got plenty of what I consider weeds. I also have plants that other people have suggested I remove as soon as possible that I've had to baby just to preserve. This post isn't intended as an overview of the plants in either category but instead an assessment of my recent interactions with a few weedy characters.
I'd been planning to whack back the Wisteria vine growing next to the arbor on the south side of the house for the past month but the task hadn't yet made it to the top of my to-do list. The following view of the vine had me questioning whether I should actually leave it alone for awhile.
In another situation, I noticed a plant I didn't recognize growing in my back border, swamping its neighbors. Its vigor alone screamed "weed" to me. I did some online sleuthing and came up with one reference suggesting that it could be poison hemlock! As it was dark outside when I uncovered that possibility, I had to wait until the next day to check for the tell-tale signs that differentiate poison hemlock from wild carrots.
|The largest plant is preparing to bloom but there are a dozen others crowded around it and there's a red Cordyline nearly buried among them|
|The stems are hairy and don't have purple spots, which signifies that it isn't poison hemlock. When I looked through my seeds and found a packet of Daucus carota 'Dara' I suddenly remembered scattering some seeds where my mystery weeds are growing, clinching the plants' identity.|
|I pulled some of the seedlings and transplanted them elsewhere yesterday|
The seeds I sowed are known as "chocolate laceflower", which is is sold under two different species names, Ammi majus 'Dara' and Daucus carota 'Dara'. I was told by one source that there's little or no difference between the two but most online sources describe the plants as "cousins" with Ammi majus described as more delicate and less weedy. I've photographs of the flowers of the Ammi majus 'Dara' I grew last year but I wasn't able to find any photos of the foliage. However, my recollection is that the plant was less robust than what's growing in my garden right now. It may be another year before I can assess whether I was foolish to grow Daucus carota 'Dara' here.
I've got other weeds I tolerate because they're attractive, at least in moderation. One of these is Dorycnium hirsutum aka hairy Canary clover (syn. Lotus hirsutus). It self-seeds freely but the seedlings are easy to pull, at least if you catch them when they're small.
|If the seedling is small and the soil is damp, it pulls up relatively easily and can be transplanted, although the plants allowed to stay where they seed fare best|
|However, if the plants are allowed to stay where they are until they reach this size, pulling them out can be a chore. They develop deep tap roots.|
|I moved a few seedlings yesterday. Dorycnium is a great groundcover and attractive even when not in bloom.|
Other weeds that I tolerate in moderation include the following:
|Left to right: Erigeron karvinskianus (aka Mexican or Santa Barbara daisy), Lobularia maritima (aka sweet alyssum) and Oenothera speciosa (aka pink evening primrose)|
Are there any "weeds" you tolerate in moderation?
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