Weedy Knowledge

I have a plethora of weeds!

When I weed I like to get up close and personal. Why? Maybe it’s because I can better differentiate between the good guys and bad guys. Maybe it’s because my garden is a cottage-style garden where the plants grow all higgledy-piggledy and cheek by jowl. Maybe it’s because I’m tired of using the garden fork like a thug and want to edit with my fingers. Maybe it’s because I want to be on my knees and near the soil.

Touching the soil and plants is the way I get to know my garden personally. Perhaps I should even thank the weeds for providing the goading that gets me into all of the various beds at least once per year.  So I get down on my knees and tease out the roots of those devil plants that dare to be in the wrong place. This is when I notice what’s really happening in the garden. I feel the tilth of the soil, notice what minute organisms are aerating the soil. Sometimes I find flowers or leaves of plants I forgot I had. Sometimes I see something I’d never noticed before and such was the case today.

I was weeding the brick path of a shade garden that had been infiltrated with wild violets and mouse ears when I pulled out a root structure (corm?) with a leaf emerging (see photo). I didn’t recognize this particular root and leaf combination so I was intrigued. The root/corm reminded me of Heuchera’s but the emerging foliage did not match Heuchera. I decided to dig it back in and observe it over the next few weeks. As I dug it in I noticed other similar leaves emerging in the area. Some came attached to what appeared to be a seed ball. I noticed larger emerging leaves that had the same speckled appearance on the stalk. I think all of these emerging leaves are Jack-in-the-pulpits or Arisaema triphyllum like these open ones shown in the second photo. I’m still going to watch the plants though to see if I’m right.

So pulling weeds and carefully checking what comes up during the digging can actually help the gardener grow. The process allows for close inspection of what’s growing and this gives me reasons to research and learn more about the work-in-progress garden. What do your weeds teach you?

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