Confessions of a Hose Dragger…
So, the heat has made me crazy. The weather has made me crazy. I started doing some gardening in the yard the other day and discovered most of my plants feel the same way. The gardening season started out cool with rain, add some early intense heat, bring on the hail, followed by weeks of dryness, oh, and then add some more heat, oops, better have one day of coolness and moisture and then have it slam back to the heat. Some days are quite tropical and I’m not sure but there now may be alligators lurking beneath my hosta’s…I hear odd rustlings…the neighbors are missing a cat…
Sigh, the damage has been done. Three of my Fothergilla shrubs have succumbed to bacterial blight. One was unceremoniously ripped from the ground by a disenchanted gardener…wonder who?! The other two shrubs will be trimmed down to sticks to see if they will come back next year. It’s a shame as these shrubs have or should I say HAD great fall color. My multi-stemmed redbud is now down to one stem… how sad is that?! Edges of leaves are scarred brown and are wilting. It’s carnage I say! Total carnage!
It looks like our weather patterns…can you say weather patterns when talking about Colorado weather? Anyway, it looks like any weather patterns we may have had are gone with the wind, out with the tide or have vanished into thin air. It may be time to re-think what we are planting in our gardens…
While driving about in our fair hamlet, one cannot help but notice that there is a lot of vegetation out there that is actually thriving in spite of our horribly adverse conditions. Really? This is unbelievable! As a gardener, are you excited? OMG!!! Just what are these amazing adaptable plants? I want some! I must have some! Calm down, calm down! You probably have several of these botanical marvels growing right now in your garden…you lucky thing you! Drum roll please…. Yup, maybe you guessed it, the plants I’m talking about are weeds! They are everywhere! You can find them standing proud and true, anchored in concrete, surrounded by asphalt, laughing at hail, cloudbursts, baking heat, dryness, ducking the occasional flying cigarette butt. Truly though you have to respect them, right?
So, and this is where the “I’m crazy” part really comes in, I got to thinking…what would happen if a person decided to go to the dark side and plant a beautiful garden full of…. well…weeds! Can you imagine it? Instead of grumbling, “I need to go out and weed”, you would instead say cheerily, “My garden looks fantastic! Look at all the weeds!” Plus think of all the things you could do with all your newly found spare time – you could get started writing that romance novel, create some art or maybe just finally find time to clean the fuzzy nasties out of your refrigerator.
I believe several advanced thinking people in my neighborhood have already grasped this concept with vigor. One “lawn” is nothing but weeds. These neighbors never water. In fact, the only time the yard gets any moisture are when occasional showers plow through at the speed of light or when their kids haul out the Slip-n-Slide. They mow their lovely weeds as if they were a fine fescue – you know they love them – and the yard ends up a lovely crackly patch of beige…beige is the new green don’t you know! Another fine example of neighborhood xeriscaping is pictured to the right. Well planned out? Perhaps – at least I’d like to think so. The beautiful green weeds are the perfect foil against the reddish gravel mulch. Spectacular!
My search for some really tough yet ornamental weeds took me out to the area above Sandstone Ranch farmhouse. No fancy watering system here! Is that a vulture circling overhead? I am afraid. Looking about the sandy, water deprived terrain I see green. Green! I see beautiful tiny purple flowers that look like miniature snapdragons on needle leafed shrubs. I see tiny heart shaped seed pods that would add wonderful winter interest to any well-planned weed garden. The bright sunny yellow flowers of gum weed are in full bloom. This would be a fantastic addition to sensory weed gardens everywhere because of the glistening sticky seed pods. Another great addition to this garden would be Stinkgrass. Stinkgrass features small glandular structures that give off a disagreeable odor – what kid wouldn’t love that?! Want more of a formal garden? Why fuss over ornamental poppies when a beautiful prickly poppy will do? Is that wild horehound I spy? Now, I can’t imagine the Plant Select people passing on this gem?
There is a fantastic variety of underused weeds to add to your yard and garden! Lawn giving you fits? Mindy shared with us at our July meeting that a particular butterfly is attracted to crabgrass…having your own butterfly habitat makes you soooo Boulder County and oh, how easy! Looking for a “Steppable” ground cover? Purslane is just the ticket, plus I hear you can actually eat the stuff…uummm…if you’re really hungry…or maybe on a dare… Bindweed – hated by all Colorado front range gardeners. Channel that anger people…let it go…let it be free…the flowers range from pure white to white with stripes to a soft rose pink. You know it’s tough, you know it’s near impossible to kill. So stop trying to kill it! Our neighbors, when they first moved here from…ummm…possibly from Mars or maybe the Twilight Zone, thought Bindweed was a dainty type of morning glory. They loved how it winded and binded its way through their low-growing evergreens. I remember how we all laughed and laughed. So, perhaps we should take a cue from these relaxed gardeners, it may be time to embrace the bind!
Now because of out recent deluge of rain, you might think that you and your water-loving plants are out of the woods for a bit…but may I remind you, it’s August. When heat and dryness once again descend and you start drooping while your favorite phlox starts phlopping, I urge you to pick up a copy of “Weeds of the West”. In it you will find hundreds of beautiful and adaptable weeds that would love to grow in your garden. Each weed is listed with lots of interesting information along with a stunning color picture of said weed. Still not on board with the concept? Be sure to take a gander at page 244-245 in the book and you too may become a true believer in using weeds! You will be soooo Boulder County! Have I peeked your curiosity? Now, you just hafta check this book out, right?!