Monday, August 30, 2010

Spring is sprung, the weeds are riz

Tomorrow is the last day of winter. I don’t need a calendar to tell me that spring is coming. I have weeds for that. The first thing I did on my return from a restful week away? Weed the front garden, where the grass is on the march into the flower beds and the last delivery of mushroom compost seems to have introduced the dreaded onion grass to the rose bed.

I hate onion grass. I have vivid memories of the first few years in our old house in the Big Smoke. It had been a rental, left to rot by the previous owner. The front garden was a jungle of weeds. We didn’t want that, we wanted scented gardenias, dense murrayas, spears of lavender, enough rosemary to keep the neighbourhood supplied for Sunday roasts. That’s what we ended up with too – but not until we’d hand-weeded every skerrick of onion grass out of the front yard. It took years.

At first, we weeded, then laid newspaper, then mulched. Still it grew. So, six weeks later, we’d rinse and repeat. Another layer of newspaper, a thicker layer of mulch. The mulch and paper broke down, feeding the soil. Still the onion grass grew.

But gradually, it came less and less. The plants grew bigger and filled the space, crowding out the weeds. We got it under control.

Still I’d go to bed and night, dreaming of dark soil with those tiny, white bulbs beneath. Miss one, and the whole garden could go to pot.

And now we begin again. Different house, same noxious weed. Fortunately, it’s only one bed. We have good mulching foundations and dwarf lavender ready to spread beneath the rose bushes as the sun’s rays strengthen and the warmth goes right down to the roots.

As I was digging my way through the soil on Saturday, my mind turned to Foxglove Spires, a 3.5 acre garden near Tilba Tilba, NSW, and a highlight of our holiday (for me and The Builder at least – not sure that the Misters were all that impressed). What began as a vast, empty paddock 30 years ago is now a sublime corner of light and shade, mature trees and tiny flowers, chickens and vegetables, exotic plants and natives. A magical woodland, no doubt complete with fairies (somebody’s doing all that work!). The sunroom, pictured above, is made from reclaimed windows - I want it. It is simply inspirational (even before the true Spring bonanza) and I recommend a visit should you find yourself in the area.

The thought of the place was enough to steel my resolve. If Sue Southam, the woman behind Foxglove Spires, can persist with an entire paddock, surely I could manage to see off the invaders in a 2 x 1 metre garden bed. Even if I didn’t have help from those fairies.

{image: Catherine Shields/In My House}


  1. Isn't Foxglove Spires an amazing place? I love the book about it as well. I guess one of the advantages of living in a townhouse with a courtyard garden is minimal weeding! Happy's still a bit cold here but I have my fingers crossed :) The weeds will probably come quicker than a result on our new government!

  2. Love hearing about garden - it's like a vicarious pleasure.

    I bought some onion type alliums the other day - a spray of white stars. Will these smell of onion I asked? Oh no, said the seller. Sadly, the whole house stank of onions for days although they did look very pretty.I really should have known better - the clue was in the name.

    Allison - there are no fairies at the bottom of the garden. Hate to break it to you.

  3. Oh wow.... seems so strange when summer has just about come to an end here, way too soon, and the days are already feeling like autumn. My weeds have gone crazy too, and there's grass where they shouldn't be grass - way too much rain this summe sadly.

  4. Weeds are no fun. I spent most of the weekend pulling out bindi. It's a mind numbing job but the prospect of prickle-free grass for Spring is looking better!

  5. I love your love of gardening. I wish I had that.

    I do share your hatred of onion weeds though, they're all around the hills where I live too. Friends used to come up to visit and talk about these gorgeous little white flowers, then pick and smell them in horror while we'd laugh as we watched them. He he he.

  6. We moved into our house many Novembers ago, when everything was dead or dormant. As such, we didn't think much about the state of the yard when we signed on the dotted line. Come spring, we had a veritable dandelion forest as far as the eye could see. (Good thing we didn't have kids then. They might have gotten lost in the weeds.) We've spent nine years fighting the good fight, and we still can't declare a complete victory. Gah!

    PS: So glad to be back visiting the virtual fibro. What a few weeks I have had!

  7. Onion weed seems to follow this family wherever we go! It was always Dad's garden enemy and now it is ours'. A conflict that spans the generations like a modern day Capulet and Montague saga. Ha! Not likely.

    I have secretly always kinda liked it - if I could grow it in a pot I would, but it's too stinky to have near the house. I like the look of all alliums, but dear lord the stench!!

  8. Hmmmm, thanks for the reminder about my garden and its weeds! It is amazing what can be done with planning, persistance, plants...and bit of passion!


  9. I read Tilba Tilba and just lost some time dreaming about cheese. I may have drooled.

    I had no idea Foxglove Spires existed. I'll definitely be paying a visit next time I'm down that way, even if it's just to see that sunroom....I have dreams of my greenhouse that I plan to build out of re-purposed windows.

    Meanwhile, happy dance cos when I wake up in the morning it shall be Spring!


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