Gardening for Dummies … In which the author stops mooting and prevaricating and finally starts to get her hands dirty!

In part one of my Gardening for Dummies journal, I get up close and personal with weeds. As you can see from the photo, my rather messy starting point is one of verdant convolution. I hope you’ll join me on my journey to restore our garden to something of its former floral glory.

Think of me as an avid front-seat gardener if you will. The type of person who has grand green notions but neither the will nor the nous to achieve them. Not that I want to cultivate the perfect flower garden or manicured lawn you understand? Heck no, I just want to restore some order on what has become our wonderful world of weeds. And not just pretty floral weeds like cornflowers or daisies; those one can live with. No, the weeds that have taken a rhododendron-like stranglehold on our garden are of the non-flowering, verdant variety.

For too long now, I’ve been staring out the window, typically on wet and windy days when the weather renders gardening impossible, muttering things like, “God, I really must do something about those weeds,” or “the next time I get a chance to go to the Garden Centre I must buy some compost/baby bio/a kneeler/a lawn edger thingy/mulch.”

Realising I was as unskilled a gardener as they came (successfully growing two rounds of Sweet Peas from seed does not a gardener make), and as my knowledge of plants was er, non-existent, the first thing I decided to do was make a list. I’m good at lists, they come naturally to me.

This list went as follows:

  • Weeding
  • Plant flowers in trays (possibly a moot point as most of them have since died)
  • Prune rose bushes
  • Sort out lawn – turn over, re-seed?
  • Do something with bulbs and seeds
  • Buy border plants and shrubs – decide on colours and where to put them
  • Buy insect friendly flowers and shrubs
  • Hire a prof gardener to cut the neighbour’s tree that’s making a takeover bid for our top garden

So with weeding top of the gardening pops, my next move was to try to find out what weeds I was actually dealing with, and how best to get rid! My first port of call was the RHS website for some expert advice on common-or-garden weeds. Their top tip for beginners?

“Annual weeds produce lots of seeds, so hoeing off young plants before these release stops another generation.”

  • I don’t even know what that means!

A quick cross-check between their advice page and the flower bed helped me to deduce that it was in fact infested with Green Alkanet, Herb Bennet, Couch, Oxalis, Enchanter’s Nightshade, Cleavers, Common Chickweed, and Docks, while the greater garden had grown a great line in Annual Meadow Grass, Nettles, Cleavers, and Unidentified rogue foliage. In fact, the only weeds that didn’t appear to have laid their roots in our garden were Japanese Knotweed and Lesser Celandine, although if I looked hard enough I’d probably find them.

So, having identified a multitude of weeds, I now needed to establish control of the non-weedkiller variety. The good news is that cultural control measures can be applied to all of the weeds growing in our garden.

“Weeds can be controlled without resorting to weedkillers. Cultural or organic control measures rely on killing or restricting the weeds by physical action, from manual removal to smothering, burning and using weed barriers.”

Cultural methods can effectively control these weeds by digging deeply to remove roots and hand weeding or hoe-ing off any seedlings as they appear. *Note to self – google how to use a hoe!

So that’s where I’m at folks. All of the weeds in the flower garden/rockery can be ‘manually removed’ (don’t know about smothering – conjures up images of a raving lunatic jumping Herb Bennet with a goose down pillow). Without further ado, it’s time to don the as yet unused gardening gloves, pick up the trowel and hoe-di-hoe, and get stuck in.

Wish me luck!

Derv

*If a little of what you fancy appeals, and you’d like to have my #dailyinspo365 posts appearing in your inbox, I’d love to have you along for the joy, the bumps, and more importantly, the company. You can follow along by clicking the ‘Follow DervSwerve’ link on the right!

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