I wrote this cute little article for The Dolton Diary, but as they couldn’t use it, I thought I’d pop it here. I’ll be writing another more suited to October for the next issue, so in the meantime, here it is. What I wouldn’t say in the Dolton Diary, is that I have been also been ‘weeding’ toxic people out of my life. After this Monday (my court case) I will be changing my mobile number and weeding out even more people. I feel like a pupae; after the stress is gone, I’m going to burst out of my cocoon and fly, and only lovely people will get to share in that.
It’s that time of year where it’s hard not to miss the white trumpet flowers of bindweed decorating our hedgerows, creeping across our garden fences, and where it is allowed to spread, even winding it’s way up and over tress. Otherwise known as Convolulus, or Wild Morning Glory, it grows so quickly at this time of the year that it suffocates our garden plants and, forgive the pun, often proves to be a real bind. Whilst it looks beautiful scattered alongside country lanes, none of us want it in our gardens. It’s a weed; the very name gives that away, but weeds by their very definition are simply plants growing where we don’t want them.
Weed-killer is not an option; not just because it kills the plant it’s climbing all over (and the nearby plants) but because it’s so damaging to all the creatures and bugs we should be trying to conserve. Pulling it up at it’s spindly stage at the start of it’s growth is also not an option as it simply snaps, and as anyone who’s tried removing bindweed knows, if you leave any roots at all, it just comes back. I found that if you leave it to thicken up, and encourage it to wrap it’s vine around itself and not your beloved fuchsia, it forms a woven rope that when tugged, pulls away from the surrounding plants in it’s entirety so satisfyingly it’s worth letting it grow just for the enjoyment of removing it. I’d suggest throwing it somewhere where you don’t mind it growing rather than composting it (it’s so persistent it will probably grow on your compost heap!) as it’s still an attractive climber in the right place. We just don’t want it in our gardens.
Another weed that is satisfyingly easy to pluck from the ground if you wait until it is strong enough to stay in one piece when pulled is Himalayan Balsam Wood. It’s an unwelcome interloper to our countryside, stealing space in our ancient forests that should be full of native woodland plants. It’s all along the water’s edge leading down to the River Torridge, and if allowed to flower and seed, will continue to spread further downstream, changing the delicate ecosystem that protects our native plants. If it wasn’t spreading so prolifically, it would be lovely to enjoy its pink snap-dragon style flowers, currently in blossom everywhere. The Devon Wildlife Trust regularly recruits volunteers to remove it, but it’s just impossible to get it all. I was surprised to see it all along the banks of a river I walked along in Brittany last week – it’s everywhere! Unlike Japanese Knotweed that causes havoc with the foundations of our houses and is hard to remove, Himalayan Balsam Wood is easy to remove; it’s roots surprising feeble for such meaty stems. This is one weed that should be removed to save our native wild plants, but not all weeds should go. Dandelions are one of the first food sources for bees that have been hibernating all winter, so if you can bear the pretty yellow blooms upsetting the uniformity of your otherwise perfect lawn, why not leave them be as a gift to the bees?