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busy gardening

Written By Lesley Canter on Thursday, May 6, 2010 | 10:49 AM

busy gardening

Haven't been blogging much recently because I've been too busy gardening. First a week getting the back balcony clean and tidy, and seeds sown ready for summer. And then a week in the UK, sorting out my London garden.

Now, if you've been following my vain attempts to keep the garden decent at a distance of 600 miles, you'll know that I've spent the last two summers battling with borage. When I left last autumn, I'd spent two months digging out taproots nearly as thick as my wrist. I cleared the garden, but I knew it wasn't the end of the story. Not only does borage self seed like crazy, but if you don't dig out every last inch of root, it just bounces straight back. And I knew that I hadn't. So the bad news is that when I got back, this is what confronted me ...

busy gardening
It was clear that another week of digging was ahead. Except that you try sitting at a computer for six months and then decide to spend all day digging. Balcony garden may be good for the soul, but the exercise that you get when coping with a real garden is sadly lacking.
Anyway, I did what my back would allow and managed to clear and plant several flower beds, as well as cutting the grass and the hedge and deadheading the hydrangeas. And the good news was that when I started, I found most of the borage didn't come from old taproots at all. It was from last season's seed - and came out of the ground like butter. Weeding in the spring when the soil is moist is also a different experience from doing it in the summer when the ground is baked hard. Even those plants which did have well-established taproots were far easier to deal with.



But back to the bad news. This year it wasn't just the borage. There were three other invasive plants covering the garden. One was this ...
busy gardening
In one of my posts last summer I remember saying that the garden was filled with hundreds of tiny bulbs which I couldn't identify. I even collected them carefully and replanted them in clumps. Well there they are, valiantly competing with the borage to swamp the flower beds, destroy the lawn and, in general, dominate the garden.
What are they? No idea. Wouldn't mind if they showed signs of flowering, but only one in about a thousand seems to be in bud. Which leaves 999 per square foot just putting out straggly, unattractive leaves. I yanked them all out as I cleared the beds, but much of the garden is still swamped. However, at least they're providing ground cover for the parts I didn't get round to.

busy gardening

There are some bulbs though which I've been quite happy to leave. Little clumps of muscari are dotting the garden, together with some tall, broad leaved plants which aren't flowering and which I can't name. But I've seen them flowering in a neighbour's garden and they're lovely. I think they're Snowflake, either Leucojum vernum or, as they're not yet in flower, possibly Leucojum aestivum. If so, they should be flowering by the time I next go back - I've planned another trip in early May - so I should see.

busy gardening
busy gardening

Some tulips are also in bud, and the daffodils which I planted last year have been glorious. The roses and lavender which I put in are also coming on well. More good news.

busy gardening

And back to the bad. There's a weed in the garden which I've never seen there before - but which is quickly taking over. Horrendous stuff - but luckily fairly easy to pull up. This is the compost heap...


busy gardening

Occasionally shy little flowers attempt to poke their way through ...

busy gardening
The third invasive plant is good news, however. Last summer I posted asking if anyone recognised a plant which was gradually creeping over the lawn and flower beds. It had clearly flowered in the spring because it was full of seed pods, but I had no idea what it was. Several people suggested violets, but I said no, I'd already thought of that and rejected it because the leaves were too pale. But what do we have here ...

busy gardening

Bright green leaves and little violets everywhere. So humble apologies to Disquina, Wendy and Jan - you were right all along.

So, it was a week of weeding. I did about a sixth of the garden thoroughly, hoed a bit more where baby borage seedlings were sprouting, and, on the last day, gave up and sprayed the rest with weedkiller. I'll be back in a month to see if it had any effect. But I suspect the borage may well have just lapped it up ...

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