Weeds - Nature's Opportunists

Weeds – Nature’s Opportunists

Nature is a wonderful thing. Here we are, at the time of writing, and it’s baking hot, sunny every day and we are all flagging. Plants are getting droopy, hosepipe bans loom large and after-sun sales are out of this world. But some plants are loving it. Weeds.

Lawn weeds still seem to growing when all around them turn beige. But how come? All of the lawn, lovely grass or foe, receives the same pitiful amount of dew and zero rainfall. Yet weeds are green and the grass looks dead. It’s a case of survival vs opportunity. Dandelions have deep roots that go down a foot or so. They find water. Grass roots are shallow. They are only a few centimetres down and, therefore, use lots of surface water. When there isn't any water, they go into hibernation - ready to make the most of the next shower of rain - but whilst waiting can quickly out grown by the weeds.

On the plus side, you can spot weeds a mile off and you can try and get them out of the lawn using a trowel or using weed killers. Trowels will get most of them out but leave anything in there, a fragment is enough, and they will regrow. Weed killers can be directed onto the rosette of the weed. Placed there it will travel down into the weed killing as it goes. And kills the whole lot. Glyphosate is the ingredient you need for this. Don't waste it by spraying all over - and always read the container before use. Remember, it will kill anything that’s green. Or faintly beige.

Other weeds in the garden also haven't been negatively affected by the hot weather. Au contraire, they are benefiting from the slower growth of cultivated plants and are springing up all over. Milkweed is a devil to control and grows so quickly. Most of my borders are brown and crispy except for the small milkweed weeds popping up all over the place. They are part of the euphorbia family and when snapped exude a milky sap that can be dangerous - it reacts with sunlight and can cause blisters. Wear gloves and long sleeves when handling. And other clothing as well of course. Hand weeding it the best option.

Bindweed never goes away but is now rampant on what has always been a line of sickly roses. ‘Smothered’ springs to mind. If the roses were robust they could outgrow the bindweed. Or maybe I’ve been slower than usual at oiking the weed out? It has been warm, you know. It is a pity that bindweed is such a brute as it is actually nice to look at. And bees seem to like the flowers. But being entangled in, around, over and across the roses mean I can't exactly get at it with a weed killer. So, I carefully unwind the twining stems down to source and try and get as much of it out as possible. I know it will come back. But it gives the roses a chance to put a little bit of growth on.

But none of the above is as bad as a recent query a friend phoned me with:

‘Can you identify this weed that’s just arrived on the lawn?’ came the request.

‘Of course. No problem,’ I answered and then heard the classic description of feathery foliage, ‘looks like little Christmas trees’ and broke the news that my friend has one of the hardest to eradicate weeds known to the World. Whatever the weather, no one wants to cope with marestail.  It makes milkweed look like a walk in the park.