The fine weather may have left us for a short while, but we are stalwart types here at Friday Group and not at all weedy. At least, we weren’t until Sara did the plant ident. for us this week – all about weeds. They may just be plants in the wrong place for some – but for many of us they are the bane of our lives.
Alkanet, in the Boraginaceae family, is sometimes confused with borage or comfrey. It has bright blue flowers, green bristly leaves and grows (too well) in damp, shady places. The leaves have little white dots on them which is how you can distinguish the plant from its better-behaved cousins. Traditionally, its roots were used as a red dye – nowadays it is more notable for the fact that you can’t get rid of the wretched thing once you’ve got it.
Borage is an annual herb and will self seed in sun or partial shade in most well-drained soils. The leaves can be used to make a cooling cucumber-flavoured tea, whilst the vivid blue flowers can be used in summer drinks. Put flowers into an ice cube tray, fill tray with water and freeze. Serve Pimms with decorative ice cubes and a breezy air of nonchalance.
Comfrey is nature’s way of producing fertiliser for the garden, being rich in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. It spreads through its vigorous root system and is hard to get rid of once in a garden. However, provided it is kept under control, it does produce attractive flowers (white, blue or purple/pink) and its leaves can be used to make an excellent organic liquid feed. Fill a bucket with water and pack in about ) 0.5 kg of comfrey leaves to 7.5 litres of water. Cover and leave for about four weeks after which your lovely, smelly (its organic!), black/brown “comfrey tea” will be ready to use as a liquid feed. You don’t have to dilute this. Comfrey leaves can also be added to the compost heap.
The plant has traditionally been used for its healing, medicinal properties – as indicated by its traditional name of “knitbone”.
We then went on to play a game of:
This is set to be a serious commercial success; Sara is patenting the idea as you read.
Lesser celandine is a bright, cheerful, yellow perennial herb from the buttercup family. It loves damp places and woods and is a source of nectar for insects in the early part of the year. However, its root tubers are invasive and most gardeners view it as a weed. An attractive cultivar exists called Ficaria verna ‘Brazen Hussy’ with deep black/bronze leaves. Worth growing for the name alone!
This shade-loving, tuberous perennial, with large arrow-shaped leaves, is also known as “lords-and-ladies” or “cuckoo pint”. Its attractive berries turn a vivid orange/red in the autumn, but it self-seeds with ease, so it can become less of a plant and more of a weed as far as gardeners are concerned. Again, a more desirable cultivar is available, Arum italicum ‘Pictum’, which has marbled, white-veined leaves, although even that one needs watching.
The Serbian bellflower won a vote of confidence, qualifying as not a weed in our books, even though it too can become invasive. We were beguiled by its diminutive stature and delicate bell-shaped, purple/blue flowers. We’re getting soft.
Jobs for the week:
- Prepare the garden to impress visitors next Friday when it opens for the National Gardens Scheme. 11.30 – 3.30. It will be wonderful. Bring friends. Eat cake.
- Rake and weed the borders. Repeat
- And repeat
Note the fine attention to detail
- Meticulous weeding now saves headaches later
- Sow chilli and tomato seeds; label
A masterclass in seed sowing. Watch and learn
It’s a hot bed in there
- Pot on stipas and prick out the chard seedlings
Happy in her work
- Prune the clematis in the sunken garden; cut down to second buds
Someone’s keeping a watchful eye on things
- Replant terracotta urns with golden libertias. Weave a birch structure for decorative delight and to deter varmints
Serious sculpture going on here, folks
What’s the last date for Turner Prize admissions?
- And now. Turning to the engine of the garden: sort and tidy the compost heap. Sounds innocuous enough, but people hide when this job is being given out
She’s really getting on top of it.
Magnificent. Queen of the Heap.
It’s a work of art, really, isn’t it?
As is Team Friday Group.