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One skill I’m trying to learn as a new gardener is identifying which seedlings are “weeds” and which are “plants”.
But the thing is, there are many weeds that are welcome guests in my garden. Like the violets that creep between the gaps in my paving, their pretty purple flowers nodding in approval at their narrow home, or the wild strawberries that wind their way through my flower beds. They may be wild, but they’re very much plants in the right place.
Of course not all the plants that arrive under their own steam plant themselves in just the right spot. But one of the best things about nice plants growing in the wrong place is that you can immediately convert them from weed to garden treasure by simply moving them to the right place. For example, my hellebores seem to love seeding into the cracks between the paving of the courtyard, rather than into the flowerbed. Of course these are plants in the wrong place – but are they really weeds, when a new Hellebore in my local garden centre will cost £10? (admittedly a few years on from my baby versions … and yes, I do live in London!!)
These plants are perfect for moving to a new spot: I know they are basically happy in my garden, and I have a pretty good idea from their parents what they will grow up to be. Moreover, where one seedling grows usually there’s more than one – giving me lots of plants that I can group together for maximum impact when they reach full size.
Similarly this cute fern is growing in my front path. It’s clearly not got a future there (if it grows to any size it’s going to get trampled), but it would be perfect by my pond if I can just winkle it out without leaving its roots behind.
As for the plants that I really do see as weeds: generally they’re plants available for sale at a garden centre near you: be it the Parrots Feather in my pond, or the Hypericum weaving its way indelibly through all my beds. Still, even these plants are not entirely unwelcome, but can contribute to the great cycle of life in the garden, either in my own compost heap or (for the tenacious Hypericum root) in the big brown council compost bin in the sky…
What’s your favourite non-weed weed, or most hated weed non-weed?