Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Joy of Weeding

Oddly enough, I love to weed.

First of all, I find it relaxing. That sounds odd in itself, given that when I come in after a couple of hours of weeding, I'm hot, bug-bitten, dirty and aching in more places than a younger me knew I had. But somehow yanking 'nasties' such as Bugleweed, or Dandelions gives me great satisfaction. It's a real pleasure to see a section cleared; it looks tidier and more organized. I guess weeding is a bit like tidying up your desk, it feels good to improve things.

Not that weeding feels all that good, especially not after a few hours. I don't weed, or indeed do any work in my garden, wafting around wearing a pretty dress and a sweet hat... I  tend to do it the way the old English gardeners did, bending in the middle like a hinge and reaching down to pull the weeds up. That way I can place my feet in safe spots and reach a reasonably large area to work in. If I kneel, I can only reach a very small area, besides which, kneeling in a garden as densely planted, or as rocky,  as mine is pretty well impossible anyway.

Now if I had every plant separated from its neighbours by bare ground, I could weed with a hoe, but I don't seem to be able to have that kind of a garden. I let things self-seed, and spread, and mix together, too much.

Secondly, weeding is a great way to really 'see' your garden. You get up close and personal with each and every inhabitant of your demesne. You observe them as you never do when you just stand back and admire the view. There's much to be said for views, of course, but if you're a plant collector as I am, you love to inspect each and every one of them, and hand-weeding is the best way to do it. I learn about my plants when I weed them.

And then, of course, there are the surprises!

I was delighted to discover a plant of Iris setosa, Arctic Iris, in a neglected corner of my rock garden. I thought I had lost it as it had disappeared from where I had planted it, an exuberant white-flowered Geranium having appropriated its space, but here was a nice sized clump about 20' away.
dwarf iris setosa purple flower
 It must have grown from a seed because I sure hadn't planted it there! In fact I haven't planted much of anything there yet, it being one of those 'what can I do with this little corner' kind of a spot. Well, now it has an iris in it.

Iris setosa, by the way, is only about a foot high. It blooms at the same time as the large bearded Irises, but it is fibrous-rooted, more like the Siberian Irises, in fact.

Another lovely surprise was a white  Blue-eyed Grass, Sisyrinchium albidum. This I had planted, at least, I had put some seeds near where I found the plant, some years ago, but I never noticed any plants. That happened because I had gotten a whole lot of seeds from a seed exchange and couldn't manage them all, so in the end I just planted some of them in what seemed like likely spots. I guess in at least one case, it worked!

If I hadn't been weeding in that spot, I'd never have seen it.

And I'd never have seen this tiny Orchid, either. Liparis Loeselii is only about 6" high and green!

It was growing in a mat of Thyme and I was patiently pulling seedling Forget-me-nots out of the mat when I found it. Then I looked around a bit and found three more!

Be sure to admire the tiny leaf-hopper near the top of the plant, he's a bit blurry, but you can see the gleam in his eye!

Nearby, in a spot shady enough to encourage a nice crop of moss among the rocks, a tiny mushroom sparkled up at me. Only a couple of inches high, it was shiny and seemed to have a powdery coating. There were a few, so a small colony. Seems early for mushrooms, but I guess they grow all summer.

I had quite a project going last summer, trying to photograph and document all the fungi I saw around the place. It ran to hundreds of different species, and I eventually had to put the project away until I had more time. Taking the photos was easy enough, sorting, cataloguing and labeling them was another matter. Maybe I'll get to it this winter.

After a good weeding session, you're allowed to wander and just admire your lovely plants, both where you were working and elsewhere. For example, I wondered if the Showy Ladyslippers near the marsh were blooming yet. They were!
orchid flowers ladyslippers showy pink and white
You see why I love weeding!

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