Bittercress is quite pretty but give it an inch and it will take a mile
WEEDS which have been bolstered by rising temperatures and light are tarnishing the bare earth.
Hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) is colonising fast. How is it that this intruder can outrun the slugs and snails which so ruthlessly graze to the ground my wanted plants?
Resilience is key and pioneering weeds are well adapted to colonise without help from us.
And I think the bittercress is quite pretty in its own right but I refuse to be taken in by its charms.
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Because if you give this plant an inch it will take a mile. And if you dare to grab it around the neck at the wrong time, it will catapult its seed on a hair-trigger.
And then you are left knowing your meddling has caused more harm than good.
Better to get it now, just as the flowers are emerging.
Just a few hours weeding the beds has helped me to begin a new relationship with my garden.
Now is its awakening. You don't even have to look closely to see the new growth.
It is everywhere — in the first leaves on the trees, the luminescent green on shrubs, camellia bushes coming into colour.
But I have found it is a very busy world at ground level.
By clearing fallen leaves and spent foliage, a vibrant new order is emerging.
The aquilegias are a mass of soft, green, swirling leaves and above these low-growing mounds, the fresh foliage on the jasmine is sprouting.
At the base of the exhausted fennel stems are the tiniest wisps of new bronze-coloured fronds and next to that the tulips.
They are rowed up like royal guards on parade. Each of the little spikes tell me bulblets have formed... my plants are finally filling out.
Once the clearing is complete, I am keen to start dividing overcrowded clumps of oriental poppies and irises. And then it will be time for a thick layer of manure for the springtime mulch.
I have found from experience the key to muck spreading is to get it on early enough so it breaks down into a lovely crumbly mass come summer. I have written before of how the cold wet weather has deterred me thus far, but March is here now, time is moving relentlessly on and I have to move with it.