Our next guest blogger is Charlotte, telling us about her struggle with everyone’s favourite little yellow nuisance…
I’m ashamed to reveal that my lawn contains a higher proportion of moss and daisies than grass. However, I can live with this; in fact I find the happy faces of the little daisies smiling at me rather pleasing as I wander down the garden path.
It’s their dandelion companions that bother me. Despite my best efforts to eradicate the yellow menaces, every day when I open the curtains more have appeared overnight. Unable to tackle the problem alone I’ve enlisted the support of my sons with the invention of a new game – Operation Dandelion. With buckets in hand we each, on the count of 3, race around the garden, battling to pick the most yellow heads until the lawn is rid of them. We then count them out to determine the winner. Rather disconcertingly in the last game we each filled our buckets with over 100 flowers! And in spite of our determination the next day more had raised their heads as if to taunt us.
The key to obliterating this weed seems to lie in removal of the entire plant. It has a long deep tap root which can be difficult to extract in its entirety and often snaps unless it is first loosened. It’s crucial that the whole root is removed otherwise the plant may regenerate.
Dandelions are one of our most common and recognisable weeds, largely due to their incredible method of seed dispersal. What child can resist blowing the beautiful seed head or ‘dandelion clock’ and watching as the seeds float away in the breeze? Even I cannot fail to smile at my toddler’s joy upon finding a stray flower which has survived ‘operation dandelion’ long enough to go to seed. I join in his pleasure as he gently holds the stem and blows, dispersing the tiny seeds across the lawn. All the while I try not to imagine them settling between the blades of grass ready to produce next year’s carpet of yellow.
However irritating, I can nonetheless appreciate that to many, the dandelion is considered a delicious and versatile plant. My guinea pigs certainly seem to enjoy munching them and I myself am partial to a cup of dandelion tea to cleanse the system. In fact I think that rather than fretting about their spread I should instead relax with a cuppa and enjoy the many apparent health benefits dandelions can offer.
Primrose also has a wide variety of weed control options, if ‘operation dandelion’ proves unsuccessful!
Dex the digger, brought his mate Luke to work one day saying that he would share his wages with him, but needed, or perhaps he said wanted, someone else to work with, I can’t quite remember. Well, pleased that the work would get done quicker, I insisted that Luke should be paid equal wages too. Seeing two grown men working for half wages did not sit right with me. However, over the next few days, it did seem to be taking a long time to do these last bits of garden. work Then the rain came, and came and came and came, so that when Dex and Luke came to work, they had to take shelter in the shed at frequent intervals. I was away for 3 days and left them to work, as I had done before when Dex worked alone. This time on my return however, there definitely did seem to be less work done than when Dex had been alone. Did I smell a rat? Had it rained that much? Was I getting paranoid? I pondered over the weekend, and decided to ask Dex to come to work early on Monday, without Luke. I would then work with him most of the day myself. I rang on Sunday to arrange this, but couldn’t speak to Dex directly, leaving a message instead. Early Monday came and went. Dex did arrive late morning with Luke, full of apologies. Unfortunately his personal life had fallen apart that weekend and he had to travel from Kent that morning, from where he was now staying. The cost was outrageous and accounted for most of his earnings that day. We all three worked in the garden till early afternoon and got most jobs finished and the place looking tidy. The new turf had taken well and loved all the rain. I had bought just the Cordyline I wanted and found the perfect place for it. But that was the last I saw of Dex and was left feeling very sad for him. I left thinking about the rest of the garden for another time.
I am over the worry of it now and on the downhill stretch. There were enough bricks reclaimed to remake the wall, and it looks great in light yellow colours of the old London Stock bricks that the house is built in. The path beside it we started in the crazy paving that was down before. However, I was using them only because they were there. I don’t really like the look of crazy paving in a Victorian house setting. The Dex came up with a plan. He had only just started and the cement was still wet. It takes quite a time to fit the jigsaw puzzle together and we reasoned that laying concrete was quicker. Dex’s master plan was to inlay white stones in the cement. I was due to rush to Sussex on a school pick up run in an hour, but chose to rush to the local Jewsons to buy more cement and white stones. I couldn’t quite picture the white path, but took a chance that my taste and Dex’s would match. I flew down to Sussex, but had a bad night there imagining the path to look like a long trail from the top of a grave. The next morning a friend commented that that he had never seem a garden makeover with a graveyard theme….that helped.
But it was lovely and I am so pleased. It still has to have a resin coating so I think it will wear well.
Well….This is getting exciting. The keen garden labourer returned. There was still debris in the ground. I had dug over the entire plot 30 years ago…twice and got out 2 skips of rubble. The section at the end only got one dig over, in a hurry. The grass that had been down there was always poor and the ground hard and lumpy. I knew it was going to be hard going in this bit of garden, hence the need for help. This chap now took to the task with a vengeance. He constructed a giant seiving system out of an old fire guard, several spades, the legs of a dead table and a grass rake. That started to take care of the filtering out of the rubble, but he excavated a trench that was remenicent of a Time Team excavation and has discovered so far: one wheel barrow, one tin bath and a timber shaft of some kind. Tune in next week to find out what it was. — Wendy