But it needs to be done once in a while, even in the low maintenance, live and let live universe of the Fairegarden. The worst spots, those that so offend my eyes on the daily garden perusal, get attacked first.
After a rain is best, when the earth is soft and the roots respond well to a gentle tug. The hori hori knife is always at hand for the taprooted unwanteds. We don’t pull every single weed, and we use that term weed very specifically. Many volunteers are allowed to live out their entire life cycle, bloom, set seed and wither back without human interference.
Most of the weeding is done in the pathways, when the taller grasses and overabundant Nigella threaten safe passage. In the garden beds, there is hardly any bare ground so the weeds cannot get going in there. It took several years of planting, dividing, adding new, finding the right combination of groundcovers and perennials to cover the bare soil, but that is the key to stopping weed germination.
Forget weed cloth, nearly all weeds arise from airborn seeds, settling happily in the fibers of the weed barrier and growing right through it, making pulling the plant out impossible. Mulches and gravel work for some weeds, but others relish the fine, open field in which to grow. There is simply no way to get away from having to do a little weeding.
The need to be outdoors is strong in me. It is an imperative. I am like a caged animal when confined indoors. In winter, there are layers of clothing worn, with a top layer of waterproof material. Hat, scarf, wooly socks and waterproof boots complete the outfit. Moving plants, redoing a bed, dividing perennials are things that can be done in winter as long as the ground is not frozen. It usually isn’t, most years.
When the warm season arrives, after the last frost date for our area, which is April 15, after spring planting, it is weeding that is the primary gardening occupation on a daily basis. It is not as gratifying as finding the perfect place for that new purchase, but pulling out offending plants offers satisfaction of a more spiritual sort.
Exerting control over the uncontrollable, making sense of the nonsensical, finding a rhythym and workable method of searching out the wild geranium growing amidst the dianthus and pulling it without disturbing the pinks too much, that is what weeding offers a gardener. It is my therapy, helping to keep the demons down in the pinky toe where they can do no harm. It also makes the garden prettier.
The weeding today was done in the pathway that is home to the great mixture of Dianthus ssp. that have cross pollinated over the years to be a wonderful mishmash of flower forms and colors. To read more about them, click here.