IT DOESN’T need a gardener to remind us that removing weeds before they become a big problem is a good idea.
Gone are certainly the days when the council employed linemen to dig ditches and ravines to keep them from being inundated, and pull weeds out of the roads and joints, cracks and edges of the paving.
The entrepreneur on his quad spraying dead weed liquid also seems to have taken the path of austerity.
Some would say, good job too. The result? An explosion of unsightly looking annual weeds, but which are in reality linear oases of plants that are no longer found in the meadows because there are hardly any meadows left.
A buddleia that has grown in a crack next to a Newport road.
More worrying are the perennials, which take root in small crevices.
The masters of the house tell stories about the misfortune of Valerian and Buddleia taking root in small cracks in a wall or concrete. Within a few years, it has become a jagged crack, or the crowns and bricks are dislodged as the root system grows.
Buddleia has carved out a place for itself in the garden since its introduction to the UK from China in the 1890s.
But – it has also become widely naturalized on wasteland, along railroad trenches and in urban areas, which is ideal for butterflies, bees and moths.
Not so wonderful for our infrastructure.
It is these pollinators that make it successful by creating a myriad of viable seeds carried by the wind.
Its purple – and sometimes white – drooping-tip flowers bloom from June to October.
It’s a forgiving garden plant – only needing drastic pruning to keep it in shape, a sunny spot, and a little moisture behind a border too.
One of my favorites is Buddleia alternifolia, which is full of attractive, sparkling flowers.
Buddleia alternifolia. Photo: Sarah Raven
It is very important that you do not prune Alternifolia in the spring like you would with most other types.
The flowers are produced in late spring on the growth of the previous year.
Prune after flowering by about a third – less drastically than you would with other types.
But back to the problem of Buddleia and her intrusive buddies.
Now that the board appears to have been forced to give up as its finances crumble under the effects of protracted austerity, I have decided to take matters into my own hands.
Previously I have modified a three point rake from a “cheap” store to a single spit version that can tackle the root of weed problems in paving and the like.
Now, it would be nice to advocate a throwback to the days when we all took responsibility for paving the exterior of our homes – but that probably won’t happen, unless people care!
Me and my little tool made a little difference for the patch outside my partner’s house, but just around the corner the problem has already grown too big for me.
Richard Wright is working on his new tool.
Island Roads spent some of our money grouting masonry and resurfacing an elevated roadway.
But Buddleia has moved in, a long time, and soon it will cause real problems – its roots probing their way and allowing water in, which helps all structures to “collapse.”
In the garden section of the inexpensive store, you should find the tool for slight reuse.
Using an angle grinder or hacksaw and bending the remaining tip makes this a very handy tool; if not for our highways and our roads but for the patio and the paths.
And all that for an English pound …
RICHARD’S BEST TIPS:
- Wash your garden tools and apply a linseed oil wipe to the wooden handles to prevent rot and woodworms and metal areas to help stop rusting.
- Pick a dry day to clean the garden shed in anticipation of spring.
- Plant a bare root hedge now during dormancy.
- Remove slippery, slimy stains from patio and paving by scrubbing with a broom or by hosing with a pressure washer. An easy alternative is a chemical liquid patio cleaner.
- Check tree ties and stakes to make sure trees are still secure after strong fall winds.
- Wash and sanitize bird feeders and tables. Also clean birdbaths.
- Hang balls of fat and fill bird feeders with wild bird food to attract birds. They will reimburse you by eating parasites.
- It’s a good month to prune the vines. Choose a frost-free period for outdoor vines.
ARE YOU AN ISLE OF WIGHT GARDENER WITH A QUESTION FOR RICHARD? You can email him at [email protected]