Sunday, 5 June 2011

Patio Weeds (05 JUN 2011)

What would you think if your garden looked like this ?

These are my thoughts :

I worked hard to get this garden.
Even so, I am lucky to have one.

I wonder if I have wasted the opportunities that this garden has offered to me.

I have certainly wasted many opportunites in my life so far ....

At least it's not too late to realise the full potential of this garden ... it might take a while though.




Years ago one of my bosses informed me during an appraisal that I sometimes use a sledge hammer to crack a walnut. I've thought about this ever since, especially when I am on my hands and knees swiping at the gaps between the paving slabs of my patio with a knife, while most of the people I know use weed-killing chemicals completing the task in a few minutes.

It was winter when I first viewed the back garden before buying the property, the major extent was paved with just a handkerchief-sized lawn and flower beds at the borders, giving the impression of requiring low maintenance. At that time it wasn't obvious that the paved areas were so fertile.



The weeds made their first appearance in spring. I assumed that they were growing in the soil under the paving and considered laying a sheet of weed barrier material underneath. However, lifting the slabs revealed inpenetrable layers of sand and stone.

Apart from at the edges, the weeds are not growing up from the soil beneath. They are in fact growing downwards from the soil trapped between the slabs. This fine textured soil which blows across from the flower beds, leaving the stones and clayey clumps behind, is not only appreciated by the weeds but also by slugs and worms.



They lay lengthways snug between the slabs on damp days and can even be seen contracting and expanding their way along straight edges and around corners as if making their way through a maze. After quite a few unintentional lacerations, I carry out weeding operations only when the patio is bone-dry for their benefit (and mine). The more I weed, the quicker & easier the job gets, it's just a monthly activity now,  and maybe it's my imagination but it seems that my selective weeding is resulting in prettier weeds replacing the coarse ones.

 
Last autumn I removed eight patio slabs, excavated down to the soil and used this central area to highlight my favourite plants. I daydream about replacing the entire patio with plants but this must remain a fantasy while I'm still going to work, as it's a struggle to catch sufficient daylight hours to grow plants for and tend the existing flower beds. Most of the people I know buy display-ready plants to fill their gardens, while I struggle to keep slug-eaten seedlings and cuttings alive or bring sick plants back to life. Expecting them to populate the empty spaces left after the spring bulbs died seems a mission quite impossible at the moment.

On the other hand, plants without stories don't mean anything to me. My sledge hammer approach to gardening is a long-term project which will probably last the rest of my life. Luckily for me, there are no objectives to meet or appraisals.

So in the meantime here are my rewards for not applying weed-killers to my patio & paths - little pockets of loveliness :







 



            


I am posting this picture of a self-seeded marigold on my weedy patio in response to Rosie@MyGardenHaven's Mission Quite Impossible #4 - Capture that Vision of Loveliness :
http://travel-i-tales.blogspot.com/p/travel-i-tales-meme-mission-quite.html


Carol@maydreamgardens writes about the satisfaction of pulling out a dandelion with the root intact :

David@tropicaltexana writes about the infamous sticky weed which has stuck to his patio. We have it in London too ! :

Carolyn@thisgrandmothersgarden reports on her project to lay down a weed-free patio, which she achieved with the help of her Honeyman and family :

©Copyright 2011 b-a-g. All rights reserved.

22 comments:

Carolyn @ Carolyn's Shade Gardens said...

Bag, I admire your attitude, and you certainly did the right thing both from an environmental and aesthetic point of view. Your weeds/flowers are beautiful and will turn your bare expanse of patio into a garden you couldn't replicate in your beds. I always say that weeding is the most highly skilled job in the garden because you have to recognize seedlings of hundreds of potential plants so you can save them. Carolyn

Shannon said...

I like to have weeds between the patio stones. I think it lends a bit of softness to the otherwise hard stone. And (since a weed is simply a "plant out of place") if you like the weeds there, then they aren't "out of place" and thus are not weeds. Problem solved!

And that's how I maintain a "weed-free" garden! ;) i think your weed free garden is beautiful, too. Such lovely flowers!

b-a-g said...

Thanks Carolyn - I love the idea of being a saviour of plants, as you are : http://carolynsshadegardens.com/2011/05/02/letting-go-part-1-the-lawn/

Thanks Shannon - I'll be using your definition of weed-free from now on !

Mark and Gaz said...

As they say Weeds are only Weeds if they are growing where they are not supposed to. But the ones you leave behind are wanted :) I like your attitude and do like your 'weeds'. Leaving some behind do impart a sense of maturity to the garden.

Elephant's Eye said...

Free spirited plants, happy wildlife, and a skilful gardener.

Donna said...

I also have a patio that likes to grow weeds and other pretty plants that seed themselves some even annuals that shouldn't be alive after winter....but like you I pull them naturally...I have also been known to pour boiling water on a few real weeds to get rid of them...I saw keep using the sledge hammer...it is your garden at your pace....of course I have become the queen of weeds these days...

My garden haven said...

Dear B.A.G, your post, to me is a vision of loveliness itself! I am delighted to welcome you to MISSION QUITE POSSIBLE! This post is an inspiration to me as I have lots of projects in mind which I am putting on hold as I only have pockets of free time. I am going to do what you did, a little at a time, instead of waiting. Thank you so much.
Rosie,mygardenhaven

Carolyn ♥ said...

Have you considered planting a groundcover like lemon thyme in those cracks? That would soften the look of the stone and crowd out other seeds that want to germinate. Thanks for the link luv, so nice of you!

HolleyGarden said...

I like a few little weeds, especially blooming ones, in between pavers. If they get out of hand, hire some children to run around on the patio several hours a day, and you will again be weed free!

gardenwalkgardentalk.com said...

I like your little wild flower volunteer 'garden'. I see many of the same that I find at the farm. Maybe you could actually seed alyssum in between the paving. Or pull them into wider spacing and plant mondo grass or another vigorous grower to replace and fill in. It looks really nice and I have done both in clients paved areas.

b-a-g said...

Thanks Mark, Gaz & EE - I didn't expect to get so many compliments when I wrote this post!

Donna - I've seen the tip about pouring boiling water on weeds on the internet. I didn't believe it would kill tap roots, but now that you mention it I'm going to do some experimenting.

Rosie - It's a pleasure to join your meme. I miss Blooming Friday too.

Carolyn - I linked to your post on your diy patio because it got me thinking about what my inherited patio means to me and its purpose in my garden. Lemon thyme would look lovely and smell good too.

Holley - Thanks for the tip! I hope they would trample on the weeds and not my little seedlings.

Thanks Donna GWGT - I like your idea of shifting the paving stones around to increase the gaps and then filling with short-rooted plants. This is do-able and wouldn't take too long. I never thought of that - I'm really glad I wrote this post.

Enjoyed the photos of the meadow on the farm :
http://gardenwalkgardentalk.com/2011/06/03/macro-farm-friday/

Alistair said...

Hi b-a-g, I like your attitude to manually weeding between the slabs, saves inhaling horrible weed killer.Count me out on the Dandelion regarding one of the lovelies. The bed which you created in the centre looks just terrific, I do like Sedum.Carolyns suggestion of Thyme between the cracks I am sure you would like.

One said...

I like your sledgehammer story. I can relate to that. Just a while ago, a neighbour again told me to use pesticide.

Your flowers emerging from those crevices are beautiful. I think you would win Rosie's loveliness award.

Oh yes! Your captions have been selected. In Rosie's words, you have won 2 caption awards. Don't worry, I won't give you 2 caption winning badges..unless you welcome them.

ronniejt28 said...

I love little plants in cracks in paving and I have been known to get down on my hands and knees with a knife to remove weeds. I was told once I am my own worst enemy, that has hung over me ever since.... "who cares, I am what I am"!

b-a-g said...

Thanks Alastair - That photo of the central bed was taken last year just before the first frost. It is half empty at the moment waiting for summer annuals.

Thanks One - I'm sure you will manage to photograph a lovely critter before the end of June dead-line. Thanks for selecting my two captions.

Ronnie - I watched your end of May garden video. You came across as a lovely person with a lovely garden !

Stacy said...

I agree with all the other comments, that plants growing between the paving stones soften them in all the right ways. That sunny little calendula (?) is just adorable. I even applaud the dandelions, as I think they are much maligned, or perhaps that's just a little bit of leftover childhood rebellion. (What child [without allergies] doesn't love dandelions?) That said, I have used boiling water even on taprooted plants like dandelions, and it's worked wonderfully.

I love what you say about "plant without stories"!

Pauline said...

I suppose in a way I'm lucky, arthritis in my knees means my husband is the one who gets down on his knees to weed the patio!! Certain flowers are to stay so he has strict instructions which ones to leave alone! Boiling water sounds a brilliant idea, that would save my husbands knees and make him a lot happier.

b-a-g said...

Thanks Stacy - Yes it is a calendula (pot marigold). I grew them last year and just shook the seed heads into a little flower bed. The flower bed is now full of marigolds and a few seeds which escaped onto the patio are growing too.

Pauline - I understand, my mum has arthritis too. You're lucky to have a husband who helps with the gardening ... and who follows instructions !

linniew said...

I do that too! I crawl around on the bricks outside (on a patio or terrace or something that we have under a grape arbor, bricks set in sand) with my little knife and ease out the weeds. I love that you select for pretty ones-- Enjoyed the read!

b-a-g said...

Thanks Linnie - Enjoyed reading about your volunteer trees http://linniew.wordpress.com/2011/06/06/the-second-rule/

Kalipso said...

I am not a perfect patio freak and simply do the weeding now and then by hand. No herbicides used. What is perfect anyway? I love natural looking gardens so, some plants growing in the cracks does not bother me too much.

b-a-g said...

Kalipso - Your garden looks lovely to me !

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