One of my earliest customers was a vicar’s wife, who demanded an exclusion zone around every plant. Her style was the epitome of little old lady gardening, with flowers dotted about the place like zits, the bare soil around them free of anything green and every shrub pruned to buggery. If this is your modus operandi, I suggest that you find another blog more in tune with your ethos; reading here will probably make you cross.
I admit that the weeds do thread their way through my hardy herbaceous perennials but I maintain such dense cover that they go unnoticed by all but the practised eye. I assault the interlopers in spring, then leave everything to get on with it apart from the occasional blitz, unless some egregious tower of hawkweed or willow herb sticks its head above the crowd. Iris germanica is doing well, in the most sun baked spots in my gift. Provided that the rhizomes are well drained I find that they don’t need to sit on top of the ground to cook, which is the prevailing wisdom. After they have bloomed, they can be subsumed by later performers and yes, the occasional weed. When the lavish silken petals get fewer as time goes by, the clump should be dug up. The central, potato-like lump may be thrown on the compost heap and the outer productive material should be split and replanted, ready to astonish next year with renewed vigour. Since they must be placed shallowly, cut the leaves down to eight inches to reduce wind rock until some roots form and get a grip.
Persicaria bistorta ‘Superba’ (red bistort)
Persicaria is going great guns. I scrounged a scrap from a friend a few years ago and now have drifts of the stuff, happy as Larry in the driest, most difficult spots. In my turn, I have passed on the favour with a warning; if someone gives you a cutting because they have plenty to spare, it probably means that the specimen is a savage spreader and a thug with no manners. You will find that they are easy enough to control, just pull it up in lumps and give them to other people. Hardy geraniums are becoming invasive, some species making huge impenetrable clumps, others releasing seed incontinently. Aquilegia are increasing freely, recklessly sending their love children to make their way in the world wherever they may. I do spend time removing them from cracks in paving, which seems to be a favoured spawning spot. I can’t get them to sprout in a seed tray, warm, well watered and cosseted but that’s just Sod’s Law for you.
Iris germanica (bearded iris)
Last year’s peony flowered poppies have spritzed seedlings all over the place. They need light and air in freshly turned soil to germinate, which is why the scarlet wildings bloomed in bomb blasted European fields. Poor Attila gained a bad back from planting dozens of Dahlia tubers for me, while I cleared the vegetable plot and told him how best to dig. He says that he feels as if he’s walking on a pair of short stilts. I think that his new found wiggle is the prettiest thing I’ve seen in the garden so far.