Try as I did, I could not remove the invasive weed from my flower border. I grabbed it from the base and yanked on it: that didn’t work. I pruned it hard and yanked: that didn’t work. I cut it back and yanked yet again: that didn’t work. In France they have a word for this particular weed: une mauvaise herbe. No matter what I seemed to do the tenacious so and so had no notion of budging: it wasn’t ready to leave my garden. Why would it? Surrounded by beautiful Dahlias and jewel coloured Sweetpeas, it got too comfy basking in their beauty and light and decided to feed upon it: thrive it did.
As I wrestled with it I’m sure I heard a whisper: a malevolent voice: Just face it girl my roots go further down than your feet do. Give up, I ain’t going anywhere! But this is my garden and each plant must earn its place: there’s no place in it for such an inferior sort. I have to admit, though, that I admired his confidence-it felt like a him-his audacious cri de guerre: Mutiny in the Garden. But what the weed didn’t know is that I, too, possess the gene for persistence. I, too, have a battle cry of my own: War on the Weed!
Before the battle commenced I gathered my allies: spades, shovels, trowels, and rubber gloves. I had my dog on stand-by; my aide-de-camp. A Golden Retriever who is highly receptive to the word catch; all I needed to do is call out: “Catch the weed, Stella!” her biddable nature a real boon whenever I need it. Like a solider I gathered my accoutrements. I circled my enemy just as a hawk intimidates his prey; a process I suspect all the more challenging for such a predator especially when his targets are of the moving kind; I’m thinking a mouse or a pigeon.
At first I didn’t know where to start: which sounds ridiculous I know, but the gardener in me knew –and, I always listen to Monty Don’s advice-that if I didn’t remove this nuisance correctly then parts of it would remain behind, ensuring a certain re-appearance; add to that a nice warm spring and a sprinkling of soft April rains and hey presto: Look who’s back! There was only one thing I could do: remove at least one feet of soil from around the weed and dig until I was sure I got to the end of its rhizome. So that’s what I did. The dig-thirty five minutes and one of the best work-outs I’ve had in ages-as hoped led me to the source of all my trouble: the root tip.
I wasn’t taking any chances I wore my gloves and burrowed about the root with my fingers making sure there wasn’t any compact soil around it – I really didn’t want it to break-you’d be surprised at how little it takes for a weed like this to sprout from a fleshy part left behind, ready at my side a bin liner into which the nuisance would be disposed. Down on my knees prying the soil like an archaeologist, I gingerly released the unwavering root: the brains behind the weed.
Every living thing needs an operating system: a brain. La mauvaise herbe, without his, was powerless, ineffectual and of no use. I, on the other hand, had defeated the crux of my horticultural nightmare.
Where there was once a weed there is now ample space for a wonderful new specimen to flourish.