Of micro-weeding, stick cutting, weed mimicry, and willow salvaging

“Most folks probably think that gardens only get tended when they’re blooming. But most folks would be wrong.”
― Shannon Wiersbitzky, What Flowers Remember


Do most people think that? When my garden is at its height in blooms, which is August and September, there is very little left for me to do.

This is the time of year, when there are blooms but not many, that is the busiest in the garden for me.

And most days begin like this:

1. Make a list of what’s to be done, based on what I can remember bothering me when I was gardening yesterday.

2. Find the tools, the seeds, the gloves, the clothes, the boots. Go back for the willow shoots. Go back for the camera.


roots of willow cuttings
roots of willow cuttings

3. Take some pictures of plants and landscape. 20 minutes. (Click on each photo for ID)

4. Start the first item on the list, e.g., “cut back sticks on leucothoe.” (I know what I mean by “sticks.”)

5. Actually, don’t quite get to that item right away, as on the way from the patio to the leucothoe notice that the three hydrangeas need their old growth cut out, so do that first.

'Bail Day' hydrangea after old stems cut
‘Bail Day’ hydrangea after old stems cut
old stems from hydrangeas
old stems from hydrangeas

6. Wonder what’s going on with the pagoda dogwood. Notice how the tricyrtis is moving into the lawn in one direction and and infringing on the carex grass’s spot in another. Wonder which fungus is in my mulch (and feel happy to have it).

Tricyrtis formosana 'Samurai' spreading
Tricyrtis formosana ‘Samurai’ spreading
fungi in compost on sheet mulched bed
fungi in compost on sheet mulched bed

7. Notice, yet again, how the weeds near a non-weed plant seem to be those that look just like the non-weed; today’s case-in-point is sheep sorrel (weed, though quite edible) and ‘Anita Kistler’ phlox.

sheep sorrel mixed in with 'Anita Kistler' phlox
sheep sorrel mixed in with ‘Anita Kistler’ phlox
side-by-side of sheep sorrel and 'Anita Kistler' phlox
side-by-side of sheep sorrel and ‘Anita Kistler’ phlox


When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant.  ~author unknown


8. Notice the quantity of weeds growing near hydrangeas, so weed it for 30 minutes.

9. Notice tiny grass growing in tiny lettuce mix. Engage in micro-weeding exercise that taxes fingers and patience. This would be a good time for someone’s child or grandchild to wander by.

micro-weeding tiny grasses from among lettuce mix
micro-weeding tiny grasses from among lettuce mix
the tiny grass weeds
the tiny grass weeds and others

10. Make determined way to leucothoe and cut back sticks (5 mins or less).

Leucothoe fontanesiania 'Compacta' after old stems cut
Leucothoe fontanesiania ‘Compacta’ after old stems cut

11. On to item #2.

And so on.

Five hours later, I emerged, muddy, dripping wet, gritty-eyed, despairing over the Nishiki willow tree, which is locked in a losing mortal battle with borers. And not having planted the zinnia seeds at all, as the space under the willow suddenly out of bounds since willow will likely be removed, and in any case zinnia seeds having gotten quite wet when the rain started an hour before.


In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.
~Margaret Atwood



One comment

  1. It is nice to know that I am not the only one who can often not get to item #1. Passing those other urgent needs as you try to get to the thing on the list always means a detour – as if they call out saying Me! Me! Me first!

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