Sunday, 7 August 2011

Attitude adjustment?

I cannot "win" the war against weeds. All I have to do is decide I am no longer fighting and hey presto, there are no longer any battles to be "won". The garden is where I go to relax, I don't want it to be a combative experience. A weed is just a plant growing happily in a place where the gardener didn't put it ... I deliberately cultivate comfrey and teasels which are weeds to many people. It is time to look differently at the native plants which desperately want to take over Bag End and grow strongly without any intervention on my part.

I might dislike dandelions but this little Goldfinch found a satisfying lunch.

Earlier in the year I used a lot of glyphosate to clear land before John Lowe came to do some major earth moving for us. John never came back and I used poison needlessly, I am still very unhappy about that. Native plants (I must not call them weeds!) are regrowing and in the great scheme of things, does it really matter?

I've always dreamed of having cow parsley grow in my garden and here it is without any effort on my part. The Umbelliferae family of plants are very popular at present - Bag End is on trend, ha ha!

The long grass deliberately left uncut on the west side of the garden provides cover for Mum pheasant and her latest batch of seven tiny chicks as they come to feed every afternoon.

Without such protection would she feel able to bring her babies all the way to the bird feeders?

The teenagers from an earlier brood hide in the grass well camouflaged from the Sparrowhawk who still makes occasional bombing runs through Bag End, or bask in the sunshine knowing the nearby shrubbery gives them shelter.

Protected from accidental mowing, the orchids have been wonderful this year.

Self-heal has flowered really well this year and the clover stays green and lush, even with the drought we've just had. Cherished are the few clumps of red clover, much appreciated by the bees.

Would more than 30 Chaffinches come to eat every day on a manicured and pristine lawn (the rest were out of the picture).

Tree Sparrow are now regular visitors, such a pleasure to see them when their numbers are in decline (rubbish photos, I deleted them!) This unusually marked young Rook makes me smile every day.

Countless baby birds this summer, more robins and blackbirds than we have ever seen before.

In the Cottage Garden, Yarrow is nearly in flower and the butterflies will thank me for this little patch. Wonder if I can save seed and spread it to the other side of the garden?

If I just accept whatever grows at Bag End until I find the time and energy to thoroughly cultivate additional areas then I might feel less like I am constantly trying to run up the down escalator .... (stop laughing at the back).


  1. Gorgeous, lovely, beautiful, absolutely perfect post. Well done.

  2. We have an extension agent whose philosophy is "if its green, I just mow it and then go fishing". His attitude toward that perfect lawn. We've pretty much adopted the same.

  3. We even have a wild flower patch on our plot under the fruit trees where the grass is left a bit longer - any more and other plot holders would complain.

    We too have lots of baby birds - a young great tit wakes us each morning by tapping around the window frame in search of bugs and we have at least four baby robins - the fun should start soon with them as they are beginning to be a bit territorial

  4. I really enjoyed reading this post - acceptance is a huge part of gardening. I like the phrase 'a weed is a plant who's virtues have not yet been discovered' and the gardeners foe is often a real friend to wildlife.
    Did you see the programme on weeds on BBC a few months ago? Apparently many 'weeds' are genetically programmed to scatter their seeds the second their pulled up so sometimes the more you weed the more you get.

  5. They say a weed is just a flower without an agent. I applaud your attitude (but then, you knew I would!)

  6. A well-timed post. I shall adopt your attitude and ignore the weed garden I have out the front of my house and instead concentrate on trying to convert the clay, bricks and cement in the back garden into an area of ground that is suitable for roses and clematis.

    Sadly my weeds aren't as pretty as yours.

  7. I so agree with you but it is harder to take this approach than people realise I think! I have become more relaxed about self seeders like yarrow but can't manage the same feelings for nettles,docks and hogweed which I have in abundance!

  8. It would seem to me Bilbo, that you have your gardening priorities absolutely in the right order.

  9. Cheryl, thank you - I guessed you would approve ☺

    FFG, I take the same view with grass. I don't care if it is full of clover or other invaders. The only thing I remove is thistles.

    Sue, I know you have to tread a careful line with allotments, shame all plots can't have a regulation 'flower' strip to aid pollination. Hmmm, that's actually not a bad idea ...

    As for windowsill tapping, I suspect the baby Great Tit makes slightly less noise than the rooks when they bang on my kitchen window!

    Nic, you are absolutely right - but I do have to accept an awful lot at Bag End! It is all my own fault - until we cut the leylandii down there was no light and air in the garden and the allelopathic effect of the conifer needles suppressed any weed daft enough to try and grow. I suspect now they are all making up for lost time. ☺ Missed the TV programme I'm afraid, makes sense though.

    VH, doesn't mean I am going to let them takeover, just not worry about it until I get the upper hand!

    Useless, good luck. A good garden takes time, especially if you have to dig out rubble and improve soil but it can be done.

    Elizabeth, thank you, great to hear from you again. Don't worry - I have plenty of nettles and docks too. At least we you can make nettle tea and feed your veggies. I'm sure I read somewhere that dock is quite beneficial too if you chop it up and soak it for a month ... but don't quote me on that one.

    Weaver (Pat), thank you, although right now my priority is getting the house straight whilst it blows an absolute hooley outside.

  10. I'm pleased to see you are getting tree sparrows too now. They are so delightful aren't they. Much more appealing than the house variety - of which I counted over 100 the other day (grrrrrrr). Keep up the good work!

  11. So nice to have the time to catch up with your garden again (family over from Spain for 2 weeks!). Reading your blog is very relaxing and a change from working like a maniac in my garden! I too have lots of 'plants in slightly the wrong place' but on Monday I drew the line at 4ft Greater Burdocks about to flower. They are impossible to pull out and I leave them to fill spaces on the steep incline into the wood until they are about to invade the whole garden then I do battle with them! Don't ever get one of the seed heads caught in your hair!!!

  12. Ooops ,,, forgot the bit to Subscribe by email again!

  13. PS I too would love some cow parsley. It would look amazing with my Verbena Bonariensis!

  14. It was interesting to see that your 'weeds' waited until they had some light and air. I think that happened here too when gigantic sycamores were felled. Amazingly foxgloves appeared in their hundreds too and I'm not quite sure where from. Although we have always had a few at this end of the garden they appeared in a completely new area!

  15. Applying the "I can't win" approach works on housework too. Somehow the dust doesn't look so intimidating.


  16. Jill, do you want some cow parsley seed?

    I am sure you will see some different plants suddenly appearing next Spring - taking all those trees down has to make a difference.

    Roddie - same here!

  17. CB - not sure what you can do to dissuade your tree sparrows, other than cut down that clematis over the shed. They do seem to like that spot, bit like teenagers and a bus stop? It does rather make a change for ME to have a bird here that you would like rather than the other way round.


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