That is the trouble with April. Precious seedlings faint in the frost, while the local thug weeds grab all the sunshine and soak up the showers. They double in size every day, choke anything expensive and will sting, stab and poison if they get the chance.
This is a great time for foragers. Get one in now if you want to transform everything into pesto, gruel, or root pies. If you haven’t got time to eat all your weeds, you have to know which ones are bad, and what to do about them.
I have identified a few types in this handy guide. The names might not be correct.
Invasion under Cover of Flowers
Speedwell is one of these. A beautiful carpet of blue across the lawn.
When the flowers die you are left with choked grass and sour-smelling leaves. It is a mass of tendrils and roots, which are fiddly to pull up, so get some helpers. I gave knives to the children who sometimes live here and suggested this would be a fun activity. After 10 minutes they asked how much I was going to pay. We started at 20p and settled on £100 as long as they got every single leaf. They failed, but it was a good start.
Not all Bad
Dandelions. You dig them up because you need to make room for the bee-friendly seeds that somebody gave you for Christmas.
The law of dandelions and bee-friendly seeds is that the seeds never come up, and, if you dig up a dandelion another 10 will turn up in its place. Luckily bees love them more than anything else.
With this plant, it is best to give in or you will get OCD disorders. Accept that wildflowers don’t always come from garden centres and you will be OK.
Sticky weed turns up on Tuesdays, about three days after you gave the garden a good going over. It strangles anything pretty and is excellent for children.
Teach a five-year-old to sneak up behind somebody and stick a clump on their back, without getting noticed, and they will be happy all day.
For Serious Gardeners Only
Ground Elder is a problem for gardeners who care. It fills the soil with roots and colonises swathes of land.
A proper gardener will talk about excavation, sieving soil, burying it under black plastic and neonicotinoid chemicals. I rip it out now and again but mostly leave it to do battle with forget-me-nots and bluebells. They generally work it out.
Stinging, Stabbing and Maiming
Stinging nettles are tricky. They are good for everything, except looking like they are supposed to be there. They are tasty in soup, can be soaked in water to make stinking fertilizer, and the stings are good for stiff joints. Insects thrive on them, so maybe let them hang around the edges if there is room.
Giant Hog Cow Parsley Green Thing (I am not sure of the name)
This one needs to come out before a child stumbles into it, and gets a nasty burning rash. Wear gloves and remove as much as you can. It is guaranteed to return in exactly one week.
Brambles. The babies are satisfying to pull up and the big giants are fun to chop down. If you leave them, they will form into a thicket full of birds, hedgehogs and blackberries. I love chopping down brambles but it might not be a good thing to do.
This is where civic duty comes in. Pull up ragwort if you live near horses. Even the most sensible horse will eat enough to kill it. And watch out for lords and ladies, which starts off like this.
It grows red berries that are attractive to greedy dogs, and deadly. So if there is any chance of a greedy dog in your garden get rid of it. The plant, not the dog.
Outside the garden, the shops opened this week, everybody rushed out to buy stuff they don’t need and now we have a gnome shortage. It is a disaster for everybody who suddenly realised they needed a gnome.
Luckily there is one living here already. I have never liked him, but it is different now I know there is a shortage. He was lurking in the hedge, but I have put him on display so that people know we’ve got one.
And all around spring keeps springing and the trees decorate themselves like this.