Hopalong Hollow....

Hopalong Hollow, where the Blueberries grow sweet, and the moss feels soft beneath your feet.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Learning to love the weed.

To many  gardeners, there is a four letter word that starts with W and sends us into a frenzy.  As an enthusiastic gardener who has battled with the  WEED for many a moon, in the flower beds, in the lawn, and  in the Potager, I have begun to take a more philosophical look at the weed. What Is a weed anyway?  And who decided it was a weed? What is to a farmer, a weed, may be a wildflower to a gardener.  What may be weeds to a  Master gardener, could be the makings of  a beautiful bouquet to an amateur dirt digger. What, is the difference between this purple patch of  wild Lamium (so-called weed) and a field of, say, purple heather?

 Both are lovely, and they look similar. But I can't seem to grow Heather on my hill and the Lamium grows and spreads and waves in the breeze and looks absolutely gorgeous from afar!  This plant is also edible and pretty when  used in a salad.  I used to rip this out with a vengeance, because I heard tell "it was a weed" but I no longer do. I have decided to love this plant instead. The boys tiink it is jolly good fun, and I am not concerned that they are crushing it in play, it just springs right back up again!

 I think we spend far too much time striving for  a pristine lawn or garden, by taking someone else's word for the definition of a weed ( and whether or not it has any business amongst the flowers)  As Miss Marple said, " A weed is simply a plant growing where you don't want it." Life is too short to be constantly exasperated and stressed out by weeding. I am going to tell you why I love some weeds and maybe you will reconsider their presence in your garden, instead of looking upon them with disdain.

  These white Ox eye Daisy are considered a weed where I live as are the little yellow buttercups in the background.   But I consider these wildflower natives and I transplant them from our meadow into all my gardens.
 The Daisies drop seeds like nobody's business, I find little plants everywhere. If I need to fill in a new garden, I just transplant these and in a few weeks, I have full, mounds of glorious happy daisies filling the cottage garden. There is no need to transplant the buttercups, they travel with abandon wherever they wish.

 Creeping Charlie
   Here is a plant that makes lawn-loving, grown men cry and ladies curse like a sailor,  (under their breath , of course). I  had to learn to love it. I used to go insane  trying to clear it out of my gardens and lawn. It has many names, "Creeping Charlie", "Catsfoot", "Hedgemaids", "Gill over the Ground", "Robins Run" AND "Ground Ivy"! How can a plant with so many names be a bad guy? Well, it isn't.  It actually has an interesting history and was much prized by our forebears as a healing herb. It is a rampant ground cover, a member of the mint family and it grows by runners. It produces teeny blue and purplish flowers in early spring and has lovely roundish leaves, shaped like cat paws. When I realised it was nearly impossible to eradicate, I decided to work with it instead. Now, I simply control it's rampant growth by pulling it away from established plants and let the remainder wander as a "mulch". If it gets to be too much, I simply yank it out where it is not welcome and leave the rest. It is actually quite lovely and smells wonderful, (especially in the lawn, whilst mowing).  It does not effect the growth of my perennials at all and keeps in the moisture by covering the soil in a thick blanket.
   Last year I even potted some for the porch

Queen Annes Lace and Wild Violets
  Here you see the beginnings of Queen Annes Lace ( also listed as a weed by the extension service, are they crazy?!)
Mixed in with it are wild violets. Now, will someone please tell me why Pansies are considered a flower and yet these lovely little violets are considered a weed?! How insulting to that lovely little plant with heart shaped leaves, lavender blooms and a tidy mounding habit.
 Below is a patch of Periwinkle, and violets and lamium.. all listed as weeds.


Creeping Jenny, wild violets and wild Geranium
are all "weeds" that  I welcome in my country gardens. Funny about that Creeping Jenny, For years it was called a weed, and then, last year they were selling it at the garden center for a hefty price!

Wild Peas and crown-vetch are also my little weedy pals... I hear-by christen all these plants as FLOWERS 
 in Hopalong Hollow!
  I don't tolerate everything listed as a weed, I hate quack grass ( it is UGLY) and am not fond of thistles (they hurt!) and chickweed ( it just looks messy and dies an ugly death). But I am very happy that they grow along the highways and byways making the countryside colorful and the bees happy.
 Many of the plants I used to stress over and despise have become my little ever-dependable pals.
 Of course, my gardens are cottage and country gardens. If you have formal gardens you may take a dimmer view on these plants. But frankly, I would like to sit back and sip my ice tea while admiring all the commotion in the garden, rather than pulling out "weeds".

"I am not a lover of lawns. Rather would I see daisies in their thousands, ground ivy, hawkweed, and even the hated plantain with tall stems, and dandelions with splendid flowers and fairy down, than the too-well-tended lawn." W.H. Hudson


  1. What a wonderful post, Jeri. Lots of good info here. I love daisies and now I know how easy they will be to grow. Thank you for that. Love the little violets, too. Weeds are just misunderstood flowers. Hugs, Deb

  2. Here in the UK, people try to eliminate dandelions and yet they are vital as a source of food for our beleaguered bees. Some 'weeds' often turn out to be rather more important than their showier, cultivated cousins. I rather like your weeds.

  3. Sounds like you're in the homestretch on your book--woo-hoo! It's always nice to be able to see the end, even if you've enjoyed the journey.

    I'm a selective weeder too. I think violets reproduce so much easier than pansies and get into trouble like naughty little puppies (not that you'd know anything about that)--hence my ongoing crusade against my white violets. The comparatively well-mannered blues and red-violets get a welcoming sprinkle and a smile every spring.

  4. Oh Jeri this was absolutely delightful! I let flowering weeds go too, it's just too much trouble to get rid of them and you can't get rid of them all, so why bother. I need to relax more not add more stress to my life. I would love all of the weeds you pictured, growing in my cottage gardens. I think they are all lovely. Butterflies and bees enjoy my weeds and I'm sure they enjoy yours too. Your two sweet canines are sure enjoying their romp in the purple blooms.

    Hurray on your book. I'm sure you'll be relieved to have this done.

    Love and hugs to you and your DH. Have a lovely weekend ~ FlowerLady

  5. Comme je vous comprends... tout comme vous je laisse aller les soi-disant mauvaises herbes envahir mon pré. A partir du moment que nous vivons à la campagne, il est très difficile d'avoir une pelouse parfaite... Les graines des herbes des prés voisins viennent se semer avec le vent chez moi !
    Merci pour le partage de vos merveilleuses photos et aussi celles de ces très beaux toutous !
    Gros bisous à vous et bonne fin de semaine.

  6. I, too, have lots of Creeping Charlie in my yard.. and you know... I actually LIKE it... tiny little blossoms and all!

  7. I think we are on the same page here. I am tired of doing battle with the "weeds."

    Love dropping by for a visit.

    Happy spring.


  8. Since a weed is a flower nobody's fallen in love with yet, yours can't possibly be weeds. They are wildflowers, are they not?

    Love your happy book news. I wish I were closer so I could pop by with a sparkling lemonade toast to be taken sitting on a picnic cloth spread among those beautiful tiny wildflowers! Heart-felt congrats from a distance, and thank you for the Hudson quote- I adore it.

    Your admirers all can't wait to see that book!!! Happy spring. I hope you are celebrating!

  9. Miss Jeri, I agree with YOU! Whoever decides was is in vogue, proper, fitting.....it is based on some kind of perspective! I am with YOU. I let the bunnies come and tear out the clover, the plantain and all the other stuff they like. To me, as long as it's green, I'm OK with it! You should see how industrious those rabbits are; they PULL with all their little might to uproot the "weeds" for us.

    I actually like the creeping Charlie! Like I said, I just let the green come, mow it, move on. Too many other things to think about rather than dowse the lawn and the bunnie's grazing area with poisons!

    Look at the fellers here! THEY HAVE GROWN SO!

    Have a pleasant weekend my dear friend! Anita

  10. "weeds" are important to our pollinators and give them nectar early in the year til the other flowers bloom, I am happy you chose to let it go!! the butterflies, bees, and flies will be ever so grateful. I just planted 20 trees and shrubs, native to our area, for our pollinators, now just to encourage the deer to please let them grow big and strong, and they can have some in a few years.. lol

  11. Okay, you inspire me with your art, now you are making me look at the garden in a different light. Yes, I just walked around sighing at all the weeds coming up in the garden. It may take a bit of counseling, but I will try to be nice to the ...........wild flowers...sigh! Have a beautiful weekend. Bonnie

  12. I so agree with you Jeri! One man's weed is another man's wildflower. Along with those you listed, I also love wild strawberries. Their little blossoms and berries that follow are so cheerful and easy enough to pull out if you don't want them. Here we have a type of 'wild" verbena that reseeds itself everywhere. It 's a lovely hot pink color, and I love it, but my mother-in-law has dedicated her life to eradicating it. She is much exasperated to find it growing just as it pleases all over my garden (tee her!!)

    1. Oh Yes, I forgot to mention the wild strawberries! Your mother in law is like a lot of gardeners I know, they roll their eyes and whisper to each other when they see how wild an crazy my gardens are.

  13. Weeds?!?! Who's to say, but isn't it all about "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder?"

  14. i learned a long time ago to make my weeds work for me. it isso much more relaxing than fighting them!

  15. Jeri, you have a wonderful way of looking at things. and you are so right.. Better to like what comes naturally.. more time to enjoy other things. cute little pups!!!

  16. Oh Jeri darlin', you ARE leaving a trail....and it leads all the way to the hearts of the many who love YOU, Mavis Mudd, Jemima, Hamish and the gang and all the other beloved animals...OH! And Attila! Almost got goosed for a minute there for forgetting!!!

    Thank you for visiting. Enjoy your Saturday! Anita

  17. Jerri, you're a gal after my own heart! We live in the country, and each year I ask my husband please not to mow a certain portion of our large front yard where the daisies, pussy toes, hawkweed, wild forget-me-nots, and many others grow--grass is sparce there, and for a short time, even morel mushrooms sprout in special places--it becomes a beautiful sight to my eyes, then later in the summer, lots of mushrooms/toadstools sprout, and become eye-candy of a new sort. In early fall, I allow the area to be mowed to prepare it for next year's beauty. The rest of the yard is allowed to be mowed, and has the well-trimmed look, but this special area is a visual feast that no master gardener can match.Breathtaking!

  18. I do agree about weeds Jeri - I love creeping jenny and allow it to roam wherever it wishes - the same is true of things like forget me nots, which seed where they are happiest - and which give such a burst of blue. Everything is welcome in my garden.

  19. Dear Cousin Jeri,

    The wildflowers look lovely round your yard and pasture! I never mow my yard where the violets and dandelions grow until after they finish blooming. In May I love to make Violet jelly! I love wildflowers everywhere! Along the roadsides they are beautiful!

    How big your protective Agents are getting and only to get bigger and bigger!

    Your cousins,
    Diane and daughter Sarah and Tillie Tinkham the seamstress mouse at the Corgyncombe Courant

  20. HA! Now you need to take a second look at chickweed. It's wonderful in salads also and helps with any kind of inflammation. It does spread though but then so do your other beautiful weed flowers LOL Your dogs look like they are in heaven in that last picture! LOL

  21. I'm of the same philosophy as you are! I enjoy working with mother nature. I don't put chemicals in my lawn and I get lots of birds pecking in my grass!! My dog can play safely and I don't worry about children playing in my grass! I love it!!

    On thing I do in my garden beds is use newspaper under the mulch. The ink from the paper kills the weed and the paper composts! I learned this from a master gardner. I have also experimented with brown cardboard, it works really well too!!!

    Your boys seem to enjoy playing in your wild flowers!

    Have a wonderful week!

    1. I am going to try that newspaper idea in my tidy penstemon bed. Also, we always have lots of cardboard scraps, now I can put it to use in areas where I don't want my "wildflowers".

  22. Hi Jeri,
    I am with you.. I have several ~weeds~ growing that have the most beautiful little flowers.. I don't know what they are, but what I do know it that they make me smile.. So here they will stay..
    Wild violets! Oh I love them.. When I lived in Torrance I had a patch of them.. I could not figure out how such a tiny little flower could have such a strong a beautiful aroma.

    The little guys are growing soooooooo fast! They look as if they are truly enjoying the wild flowers too!

    Wishing you a beautiful weekend.

  23. Living in vermont, seeing so many natural flowers that people call weeds has been an interesting experience! We have dandelion season here, which is very close right now, and makes fields of gold that I have never seen before I moved here. They're beautiful! There is also a weed with a periwinkle flower that I think may be my most favorite color in the world. :) They may be weeds, but they're pretty weeds!

  24. We had an Italian gardener who gathered up all our dandelions and
    made dandelion wine for everyone. Try as I might I cannot grow
    Queen Anne's Lace. although it flourishes along our TN highways...
    What is the secret? Has this not been "a day that the Lord hath made"? We spent a good part in the meadows at the Ellington Center
    in Nashville...reminded us of the Hollow...Your heart is so open
    to Nature, Jeri, it is no wonder all things bright and beautiful
    respond to your caring hand....JL's as well... Cannot wait to see
    what Spring brings forth in your landscape.....Not green with envy
    just a touch of chartreuse (cowardly envy) What you dare to dream
    inevitably comes forth and I look forward to the enchantment.

  25. P.S. Hugs to the Honey Bears....Adorable.

  26. Mary, I just dig up the Queen Annes Lace from the field. If you can get just ONE plant to bloom and produce seed, nature will spread it all around for you! It WAS a perfectly beautiful day wasn't it?! I cleaned my potting shed and planted snapdragons.

  27. Hi Jeri,

    Couldn't agree with you more, sometimes the weeds make a pretty show - I have some of the small daisy growing near a path.
    Your sweet dogs look like they are having fun rolling in the grass.
    You must be getting excited about the book been almost finished.

    Happy new week

  28. Ah yes Jeri ~ one womans weed is another mother womans wonderous display of fauna :) We do the wild and natural look on our farm too in many a spot and it all blends in naturally and beautifully!

  29. Hi Jeri,
    Thanks so much for wandering over to view Connie's artwork.
    She said thank you for your comment!

    One or two pages and you are FINISHED? OH, this is what I have been waiting for..
    Have a great week..

  30. Oh dear I should very much like to see a weed or several for that matter. Just anything GREEN would be delightful !
    We have rain at last but it still isn't warm enough to melt those last dirty piles of snow.
    Happy all is well your way.

  31. Oh my goodness, your two little boys are just growing up way too fast!!! So adorable! Cannot wait for the new book!

  32. Oh, look at those two sweet ones enjoying the flowers and sunshine!!
    Dear Jeri...I agree with you, that the lovely plants deserve a place in cottage gardens...I am a wildflower-loving girl myself...
    And so many of these so-called weeds are healing in folk medicine...
    Enjoy this bounty!!!
    Love and blessings,
    - Irina

  33. Seems like not all appreciate the purpose of weeds, they can have benefits not just only they serve as indicators of soil conditions, they can also help break up the subsoil, pump deeply-buried nutrients up closer to the surface, provide cover for beneficial soil organisms, and “fiberize” the soil, making it more friable and increasing the tilth.

    1. These are good things to know in learning to love the weed!

  34. Dear Jeri - you are exactly right about weeds...I have so few that I call weeds in my garden...in the woods if something grows and blooms it is a wildflower. I know some may say differently but my motto is pretty much if it is living...leave it be! As always I certainly enjoyed my visit. Your boys are growing like "bad weeds"! Have a wonderful week friend.

  35. Hope your having a wonderful weekend Jeri don't get too busy to stop and smell the weeds um er ~ flowers ! ;)
    Playing with the puppies in between your lovely busy work I'm sure.
    Hugs and chicken chortles

  36. I love seeing this, Jeri! Tasha, too, left many many so-called "weeds" as she quite liked them. She referred to them as "volunteers" in the garden :-) ~Natalie from Tasha Tudor and Family

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