A light touch Posted on July 12, 2012

‘You garden with a light touch’ said a knowing visitor the other day – appreciatively, I hope. Could she have been referring to the complementary campanulas, the aleatory alliums, the volunteer violas and random ranunculus that meet your eye wherever you turn? ‘You leave things in; so much nicer than taking them out.’

I do take them out. I’ve been barrowing opium poppies to the compost for weeks now. The idea is to let them show a first flower or two, decide whether it is a good colour or not, is fully frilly or otherwise   desirable, and pull up the ones that have no

special quality, in the hope of improving the stock. After years of doing this I admit we aren’t getting very far, but I enjoy the process.

The thing to remember is what comes out easily, like the poppies, and what leaves roots in the ground. You can enjoy an allium, even into its seed head phase, and still get rid of it. Not so an invasive campanula. And violas are the devil to do away with.

But most of the pulling up at the moment is what I think of as busy lizzies of various kinds. I’m not clear about all their identities; only their vigour and the distance they can chuck their seeds. You merely look at the watery yellow-flowered kind, only a few days old, and it looses off a petulant scatter of seeds. It’s lucky I enjoy weeding so much.

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