The headline from a featured article in today’s Telegraph: Garden of weeds takes home gold at Royal Horticultural Society Show.
I am crying with joy. Speechless with pride. Overcome with emotion. And–at last–sure of my gardening (if nothing else) prowess.
(Those of you who are vehement defenders of your Homeowner Association’s right to regulate to the millimeter the length of your neighbor’s grass, to interfere with his paint and flag choices, and to prevent his garden from falling into riotous disrepair, please stop reading right now. This post (and most of what I write here) isn’t for you.)
The Telegraph (which is the only news provider I subscribe to and actually pay for**) does have a paywall, so in case you can’t read it, here’s are a few outtakes:
A garden full of weeds has been awarded a gold medal at a Royal Horticultural Society show despite its creator expecting to receive “nil points”.
The plot – named Weed Thriller – was handed the award at Tatton Flower Show in Cheshire on Wednesday.
Rachel Evatt from Sunart Fields – the Derbyshire farm behind the concept said: “They are wild plants that have been branded incorrectly as weeds and some people would say that a weed is just a plant in the wrong place.
“So what we are saying is really to embrace all of these wild plants, especially controversial species like the ragwort, which are one of the most important sources of nectar for a wide variety of insects.
Yes. Ragwort. I actually bought (that is, paid money for) a few dwarf ragwort plants about three years ago, and they’re one of my favorite perennials. They’re spreading like, umm, weeds, form a thick carpet, choke out the less desirable plants (I’m thinking, poison ivy and mile-a-minute weed), and have attractive yellow flowers that bloom for several weeks. What’s not to like? (I’m not allergic to them, and I understand that, generally, most people really aren’t.)
Then there’s bee balm. Another native perennial (read, “weed”) in this area. Has a nice, herby smell. Produces lovely red and pink flowers that attract bees and butterflies. And penstemon (beardtongue). Various fragrant phlox (or should that be phragrant flox?) I plant all these, and I welcome the interlopers who show up on a regular basis, together with yarrow, and a few types of milkweed.
I don’t (on purpose) plant goldenrod. Or ironweed. While both are quite pretty and attract many pollinators, I don’t need them in my garden, because they’re all over my fields. (Milkweed, let’s be clear, is also prevalent in my fields. I plant it in my garden though because it’s the only plant species on which the Monarch Butterfly will lay its eggs. I like the butterflies, so ‘the more the merrier,’ as far as I’m concerned. (I especially like the orange “butterfly milkweed” (asclepias tuberosa) plants, and have several in the garden. As for the more traditional milkweed, I have a few of those too, but mostly limit myself to throwing the seeds from the many plants in the roadside ditches around in the Fall in the hopes they’ll propagate. I think many of them do.)
Rudbeckia? Lamb’s Ear? False Sunflower? Daisies (Fleabane)? Yes, yes, yes, and (emphatic) yes! (Most of those
invade visit of their own accord. And, like most strays who show up, they find a home here.
Please. Take the time to learn a bit about the flowers that are native to your clime, whatever, and wherever it is. And then find a way to “go with it.” There are so many flowers and plants I remember from my childhood, in both England and Nigeria, which don’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of surviving either the SW Pennsylvania summers (mid-90s, temperature and humidity) or winters (well below zero Fahrenheit on many occasions). Once I stopped fighting, and embraced what does grow here, 1) my garden got much prettier and 2) I had much less horticultural stress. Win, win!
**My family has always subscribed to the Telegraph. Originally, of course, in its print edition and to be read only after the servants had ironed it.
PS: Extra credit if you know the name of the current President of the Royal Horticultural Society. LOL.