Troublesome Weeds and Wildlife Gardening
Any plant can become a weed and gardening for wildlife regardless of limited space.
As usual I have been very busy tending to the PlantAdvice garden plus others besides. I have started forking over mixed borders, breaking up that top layer of compacted soil and making the borders look cared for following the relatively quiet winter period. Forking over borders also makes it easy for any rainfall to penetrate the soil, reducing water run off. However, as previously discussed when talking about drought conditions, you have to weigh this up against the potential water loss when you expose any moisture in the soil to the sun and wind. To conclude I think I would still consider a ‘No digging’ policy if a long period of dry weather is forecast.
I have been helping one of my regular gardening customers to deal with a rather invasive ‘weed’ this week. The ‘weed’ in question was actually bought at a garden centre some years ago but like many other plants if you don’t keep this particular plant under control it can prove to be a real thug.
The plant in question is Arum italicum, commonly known as ‘Lords and Ladies’. This tuberous perennial with broad white veined leaves was originally bought to provide foliage material for flower arranging but soon began to misbehave, spreading where it was not wanted. The primary cause of the spread in the garden was trying to remove the unwanted new plants. You have to be very careful when digging it up as you only need to leave behind the tiniest piece of tuber in the soil and it quickly propagates itself. The younger, shallow rooted plants are the easiest to remove; digging seems the only answer as painting a weedkiller on the leaves would take forever. It just goes to show that any plant can be a ‘weed’ in fact the best definition of a weed is ‘any plant growing in the wrong place, where it is not wanted’.
In the vegetable garden I have been sowing sweetcorn and climbing French beans indoors this week. My young son helped me; the concentration on his face as he dropped each sweetcorn kernel into the pots of compost was a joy to behold. My son only tried to eat a couple of kernels, if you can provide constant supervision its great to get toddlers involved with gardening if you can.
The plantadvice wildlife garden (pictured) is now a couple of years old. I thoroughly recommend setting aside a bit of your garden for a designated wildlife area. It’s amazing what you can fit into a relatively small space. The plantadvice wildlife garden is only about 5m x 5m but it includes a pond (currently full of tadpoles), long grass planted with native meadow bulbs, a silver birch tree (just about the best native tree for attracting wildlife), a log pile of rotting wood, and a hawthorn hedge. For the finishing touch I really tried to mimic the local countryside by building a home-made stile!