What’s growing in your garden?

I was scanning a magazine the other day and there was a poll on gardening. The question was, “What do you grow in your garden?” The answers were typically what you’d expect: carrots, rhubarb, peas etc. The answer that caught my eye was “weeds”.  I actually laughed out loud at the fact that someone sent in that answer and the magazine actually printed it. It struck me,  this answer was probably one of the most honest answers in a gardening poll! How many of us could say the same?

Clockwise: Dandelion tea, Dandelion plant, Joe Pye Weed, Goutweed flower head

Medicine or menace? The photo above shows a variety of plants that are considered weeds. It could be said that one person’s weed is another person’s wealth. The dandelion is a good example. In a perfectly manicure lawn, the dandelion is definitely considered a menace. We go to great lengths to remove, rid and prevent them from appearing in our lawn. However, as you can see from my kitchen stash, I enjoy the medicinal properties of dandelion tea! So, is dandelion a medicine or a menace? It depends on it’s application and personal perspective. 

Not all weeds are created equal!  When we consider weeds (or other plants) that are invasive to Ontario or other provinces or countries, that is a different discussion altogether. Let’s use the example of Goutweed (Aegopodium podagraria). If you’ve ever come across goutweed you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about when I say, “You might as well move”.  Goutweed is invasive in Ontario and shockingly, I have seen it sold in a garden centre! It is a groundcover that grows approximately 30 cm tall, reproducing by seeds and widespread underground rhizomes. This vigor is what often entices people to use it as a ground cover in their gardens. It will definitely cover ground to the point of even taking over your lawn.  Before you decide to plant something it’s a good idea to check out www.ontarioinvasiveplants.ca

What’s in a name? Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium maculatum L.,)  Don’t be fooled by the name! This plant is an Ontario native and a vital pollinator for gardens, meadows and naturalized areas. 

5 Tips for Dealing With Weeds:

  1.  Always know what you are dealing with. I cannot stress this enough! Is it invasive? Is it poisonous? Is it a pollinator? If you’re not sure, seek help.
  2. After you’ve done #1, keep what you like and get rid of the rest. I’ve heard it said that weeds are just plants in the wrong spot.
  3.  Allow some time to pass in the spring in order to identify what is a weed before you pull it out. Mark the plants you’ve allowed in your garden so you can identify them in the spring. 
  4. Ask a friend or knowledgeable person if you find a plant in your garden that you don’t recognize. It’s important to be able to identify new plants.
  5. Allow yourself to think outside of the box. In the world of landscaping we are often trying to achieve unnatural environments. Our need for perfection can cause us to overlook the benefits that certain plants add to the ecosystem. 


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