I don’t know about you all, but I have a great urge to tidy up my garden this time of year. Partly it’s because doing so leaves one less thing to do in spring and partly because, as Charles Dudley Warner wrote in My Summer in the Garden in 1889, “the closing scenes need not be funereal.” All this tidying up is usually quite enjoyable.
Moist soil – and not too, too many weeds – make weeding fun. Creeping Charlie (also know as gill-over-the-ground) has sneaked into some flower beds. Its creeping stems are not yet well-rooted so one tug with a gloved hand and a bunch of escaping stems slithers back from its travels forward from beneath and among flower plants and shrubs. What remains are occasional tufts of grassy plants, especially crabgrass, easily wrenched out of the ground or coaxed out with my Hori-Hori garden knife.
Warmer weather, even if it’s not all that warm, makes me feel like spring is just around the corner. The ground — in my vegetable beds, at least — isn’t even frozen, no doubt because water doesn’t linger long in the well-drained soil and because the dark-colored compost blanket I laid down in autumn sucks up the sun’s warmth.
So yesterday seemed like a perfect time to continue the garden cleanup that screeched to a halt when frigid weather struck, and some snow fell, a couple of months ago. Old cabbage heads that never quite ripened were laying on the ground like ratty, pale green tennis balls (with stalks attached). The four-foot-high stalk of one Brussels sprouts plant, stripped in autumn of its sprouts, stood sentry like a decrepit soldier in the same bed.
Of course, kale also still stood, except for those that flopped to the …
Last week’s highlighting of quackgrass as this year’s worst weed was a passion judgement; the quackgrass seemed frighteningly abundant. But now that I’ve gotten the upper hand on it, I realize that quackgrass is lurking in the wings every year, ready to creep into any overlooked edge of the garden. So let’s glance down at two newbies vying for the worst-weed title this year: purple deadnettle (Lamium purpureum) and its cousin, henbit (L. amplexicaule).
Purple deadnettle or henbit, both with creeping stems, rounded leaves, and purplish flowers, could easily be mistaken for creeping Charlie (Glechoma hederaceae), a weed that’s been slinking around my place for years. Purple deadnettle’s upper leaves are purplish and more triangular than its cousin’s.
Creeping Charlie is enjoyable to rip out of the ground. If you grab …