It has been a busy week, but unfortunately not out in the garden. I have been hard at work on my computer, working on exciting projects there, or staring out the window at weather that clearly shows my hardiness as a gardener. It would seem I’ve gone a bit soft and freezing winds blasting straight up from the ocean, laced with sand it picked up along the way that could exfoliate my skin just as effectively as a facial in a fancy beauty salon, but for free, aren’t my idea of acceptable gardening conditions. And then when the weather was perfect, and I had a clear day, I headed off on a road trip with a bunch of other garden writers. Although I wouldn’t have missed that day as it was loads of fun. However, doing it on a bleak and rainy day wouldn’t be nice either. And so, when I finally emerged into the garden I noticed there had been some changes in my absence.
Sadly, it isn’t the beds being miraculously being filled. That would make me jump for joy. What it was that I noticed is there are flowers all over the place. And I didn’t put them there. We are in a slice of paradise that has only been occupied by cows in recent history and there certainly hasn’t been anyone planting anything here. Just the whims and wishes of nature.
However, there is beauty everywhere, and not the soft pastel beauty normally attributed to spring in the form of daffodils and blossoms, but strong, bold yellows are the dominant colours and it has taken me by surprise. It isn’t the kind of spring I’m used to, but I’ll take it.
But the question remains – weed or wildflower? Every single one was found listed on a website that documents all of the weeds and ornamental escapees and lurk in our fine country. So, do I enjoy, or do I seek and destroy? Many on the list are things found in garden centres or used to be. This makes for an interesting ethical choice as I go about planning my landscape. Even a common daisy can become a pain elsewhere so what seems like a lovely choice is so much more and comes with responsibility.
But for now, I have some weedy wildflowers to enjoy and then possibly destroy.
The most common has to the Groundsel (Senecio skirrhodon) a cheery little daisy like flower that is everywhere, but as cows were the previous occupiers they tended to avoid eating it because its toxicity. Which I guess is why it is there spreading its cheerful seeds. It is suggested if you are a good neighbour in rural parts you’d get rid of it as it is an aggressive invader of pasture and coastal areas!
The next common I know needs to go, but when you look at the flowers you can see great beauty, but it is like those sea sirens that lure sailors in with their sweet sound and then turn nasty and that is gorse. Those prickles that come with it are certainly not welcome and at the rate it can take over we need to act now. Apparently, the country has spent millions of dollars trying to control it and so personal reasons aside I need to do my bit for my country.
Clover was a nice surprise as it shows the sand is being colonised by plants that can do good and use their nitrogen fixing powers. There is a lot of lupin as well, but that isn’t flowering right now. I have a few patches of the red one (Trifolium pratense) and the white one (Trifolium repens). They only appear to be listed in the weed section as they aren’t desirable in lawns but have a beneficial role in pasture.
Onion weed (Allium triquetrum) has also shown up – but in small numbers. As much as it can be a pain to many gardeners you can’t help loving their cute little white bell shaped flowers. I’m not game enough to try and eat it although from what I understand it is possible.
One that surprised me was the Gazania – at least that is what I think it is. It could be an Osteospermum. They are both on the list of undesirables. The Osteospermum because it is highly toxic specially to cows and the gazania because it is an escapee who just shouldn’t be in our sand dunes. Either way there is a gorgeous apricot daisy-esk flower in the middle of nowhere! I hope it is the gazania as I would love to use them to cover a sandy bank. Not only is it pretty but if it likes the conditions it will help stabilise the bank and if it’s already here and not harmful to the neighbour’s cows…
Finally I was delighted to see Cape Daisies (Arctotheca calendula) as I remember them from my childhood. The leaves grow out in a wide rosette and the flowers grow around the edges and so it looks what you would imagine a fairy ring would look like. I spent a lot of time as a little girl imagining fairies hanging out there. They are also perfect for making daisy chains as the stems are nice and wide and perfect for slipping a thumb nail through to make a hole in the stem for another stem to be threaded through. We made chains by the metre! Fun times.
However now it would seem to be a weed because it isn’t welcome in lawns and isn’t a good thing for cows to eat. But it does seem to like it here beside the sea.
But enough the admiration, the calendar is clear and the day is mild, and I’ve just added invasive weed control to my very long list of things that need to be done in the garden.
Come again soon – things will be done.
Sarah the Gardener : o)