Dear Readers, it’s funny what we have tolerance for as gardeners, and what pushes us to the limit. In the front garden this year I’ve let the Green Alkanet have its head – I know it’s a thug, but it attracts more pollinators at this time of year than practically anything else. Look at this gorgeous Holly Blue butterfly, for example – they all seem to have come out in the past few days and you can often see them circling around one another in tight, dizzy circles.
The plant is not just a magnet for butterflies, though – it’s also visited by honeybees (I suspect from the hives over in our local allotments) and various hoverflies and solitary bees, including a very late female hairy-footed flower bee. The hoverfly in the photo below is, I think, a Common Hoverfly (Syrphus ribesii) – if so I’m delighted, as its larvae are ferocious feeders upon aphids, eating up to 50 a day. If the last few years are anything to go by, my two buddleia plants, which are currently looking green and healthy, will soon be dripping with honeydew from the sheer volume of greenfly, which are cheerfully picked up and moved around by the black ants that live under the patio.
So what is it that I won’t tolerate? Does anyone recognise this?
It’s our old friend Prickly Sowthistle (Sonchus asper) and London seems awash with it at the moment. This individual was growing in one of my fancy pots next to the semi-squashed catmint, and had somehow managed to achieve a height of about a metre without me noticing (well, I have been away/busy). And somehow, this was a step too far, and out it came. It seems there are limits to my acceptance of ‘wildflowers’ after all (and yet I am turning a blind eye to a few nettles in amongst the lavender and the green alkanet because I figure there’s a good chance that something will be benefitting from it).
I accept that I am prepared to accept a wider range of ‘weeds’ than most people (after all, what would I have to write about?) but I am curious. What plants will you pull out as soon as they raise their heads? What do you tolerate because you’re fond of it, in spite of its ‘weedy’ status? I am reminded of my Mum asking the gardener to mow around the patches of daisies because she loved them so much (and bless him, he always did). I suspect that we’ve all got a soft spot for something.