Wildflower Wednesday of January 2012

It should be called Weedflower Wednesday around the Fairegarden in January, for those are the wildlings blooming with carefree abandon at the moment.

The worst offender, one of the plants we refer to as *born pregnant* begins flowering at the just about large enough to be able to pull it out of the ground stage. The blooms are quite small, sometimes not even noticeable from five feet eye level, but they pack a punch in the seed production department.

In many places of the garden, larger leaves of plants like Hellebores keep the population in check, but in the mysterious, magical miasma of the gravel paths, knot garden quadrants and the official Gravel Garden, this repeat offender goes on a seeding spree before it is even warm enough to think about weeding.

But this year, with the warmer air temperature and a Taurean determination, the knot garden gravel paths were tackled with exhilarating zeal. Seated on the little scooter, with hori hori in hand, a large plastic tub to hold the prisoners and bundled up to the nines, tens and elevens, every square inch of gravel was dug and sifted for the assortment of bitter cress, oxalis and anything else that was not a viola baby. Those precious viola sprouts were replanted along the four edges in amongst the store boughts of the fall planting.

In between below freezing mornings, a small section was attacked for a few hours, until my back was screaming and my fingers were freezing, even inside the felt lined nitrile coated gloves. Finally, the job was complete. Check! I was finished just in time for the beginning of blooming. It is hoped that in this case more will be less. That is, more weeding now will mean less weeds next year.

But really, a mere human mustn’t be so smug about thinking she is somehow in charge, or in control, or even keeping head above the swiftly moving current, for while our attention was lasered in on the bitter cress, another early blooming wildflower had been growing….

….All too well.

The bit players in this play are the winter annuals, bittercress, Cardamine hirsuta, and henbit, Lamium amplexicaule. Natives from Europe, these two travel arm in stem to enliven a landscape in the depths of grey and brown season. Thanks, but no thanks, you guys!

Please join my friend Gail of Clay And Limestone each month to feature the wildflowers that might be growing in your garden or neighborhood, on or about the fourth Wednesday, or anytime.


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15 Responses to Wildflower Wednesday of January 2012

  1. Gail says:

    My dear, You’ve photographed these troublesome weedflowers beautifully! I do like that sweet henbit, who wouldn’t love it’s pretty little flower. I know the honeybees do…Happy Wildflower Wednesday and may all your weeds be fewer! xxoogail

    Thanks Gail. I like them too, if they weren’t so prolific! It is heartening to see bees now, at least they have something, along with the crocus, to visit.

  2. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I have a pathway full of these rascals too. They make sure we always are needed. Ha… Happy WW.

    Thanks for visiting, Lisa, you are such a loyal reader! At least these wildflower weeds give me something to do on these warmer days! Happy WW to you.

  3. Rose says:

    Ha, I’m still chuckling over the “born pregnant” description, Frances:) I don’t have all the same culprits as you, but I think the creeping charlie in parts of my garden must be reproducing even as I type.

    Thanks Rose. Gosh, no bittercress of henbit? That is incredible! I have the creeping charlie, too. But don’t pull most of it, kind of like it actually. I have to pull anything in the paths, or they would quickly no longer be paths.

  4. Laurie says:

    Bittercress, is that your name? You must have quite a bit of anti-freeze within
    because you simply thrive in cold, cold mud at my house.

    Wonder how bitter you are? Have you tasted any, Frances?

    Yes, what a strong and staunch plant both of these are. Cold, snow, ice, nothing bothers them. I have not tasted it, the word bitter in the name is a red flag to me. HA

  5. michaele says:

    Yes, it’s been a very good winter for weeds so far and all your pictured visitors look very familiar. I went to battle yesterday myself and filled quite a few buckets…sigh, that effort only made we realize how much more I have to do. I have never known the name of the weed I call the prolific little rosette with the white flowers. Is that bittercress or cardamine hirsuta? It can get so robust so quickly. Even though I resent the heck out of it, I have to be in awe of it’s ability to assert itself.

    Hi Michaele, thanks for stopping by. Yes, bittercress is the common name, Cardamine hirsuta is the botanical Latin. It can bloom so small, and has already seeded itself by the time you even notice it, ensuring next year’s crop. That is why I was out there sifting at the turn of the new year, trying to prevent the seeding. Of course we can never win, but the weather has allowed a stronger battle front this year!

  6. ddonabella says:

    I so wish I could be out weeding and deluding myself into thinking I am gaining control over the weeds in my garden now growing under the snow cover…soon enough though I will be out with chilled fingers and wet knees.

    Delusion is the correct term, Donna. I have had the wet knees and frozen fingers. Of course now that the weeding of the knot garden paths is finished, it is 70 degrees!!!! At least there will be no blooming bittercress in there. This year.

  7. Dear Frances, From Tennessee to Pennsylvania — those same little pests are invading my garden, too. I’ve also been busy pulling out the bittercress, but must confess I do leave a lot of lamium in place — I love it. P. x

    Thanks Pam. These weeds get around, it seems! I don’t pull all of either of them, but in the knot garden gravel paths, where the prized viola volunteers roam, all weeds must be extracted. Complacency results in, you guessed it, lots more weeds.

  8. Say what you will, I do love the bloom of Henbit…sweet little purple bloom. As for the winter weeds….augh. We have Juncus that spreads all year that is the bane of my garden. Today is weed pulling.

    At first I thought the henbit was a flower, too, and still leave some of it around. There is no way I can get all the weeds, anyway. This warmer weather is good for weed pulling. Enjoy!

  9. Pearl says:

    Oh how I hate that weed!! Even our 8 inches of snow we had last week did not kill it. Our winter has been milder than normal and it’s just all over the place.

    Hi Pearl, thanks for joining in here. The bittercress is certainly not affected by cold or snow. It is having a banner year in the warmer temps. I hope the gardener’s choices of plants to grow here do the same.

  10. ricki says:

    I have been known to get to these too late, when the seed heads have dried and they explode when touched. Talk about your sinking feeling. You set a good example yet again.

    Thanks Ricki, for that vote of confidence. I have had those seeds explode right into my eye, even while wearing glasses. Of course it is way too late by then, so why do we even bother pulling them? I do it too. But this time I was ahead of them, in one small area of my garden, anyway.

  11. I don’t know who said it, but “a weed is just a flower in the wrong place” pretty much sums it up.
    The blooms are pretty, but they are so invasive! Got to get rid of those rascals!
    Happy Wildflower Wednesday!

    So true, Lea. We leaves the weeds in some spots, pull them in others, same exact plant. We do need to keep the paths somewhat clear, they are the biggest bugaboo for weeding here. Happy WW!

  12. You can see my take on (native) weeds at


    and the post that follows it.

    Thanks Steve. I don’t normally allow unsolicited links, but will let this one go, this time.

  13. commonweeder says:

    I don’t have to worry about weeds, yet, but the day will come soon enough. Why do weeds germinate earlier than what we want to see growing?

    These two are the earliest of the early here, Pat. The bittercress is especially tricky, it breaks off easily if you don’t get down to the root and will regrow to bloom at a very small size. The henbit is large and gangly, easier to see. With no snow cover this year, we are on it!

  14. We suffer with Bitter Cress here in UK too. It tends to come in with plants bought from nurseries.
    ps. just posted my Piet Oudolf blog. I promised i’d tell you.

    Thanks Green Bench. I will check it out.

  15. Lola says:

    Too many weeds here. Dollar weed sure is a nuisance. It travels underground. & the richer the soil the bigger the traveling root. Hate that stuff.

    We have weeds galore, too, Lola. It is just the ones in the gravel paths that must be dealt with promptly, so we can peruse the garden! HA

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