Ground Elder Eradication Trial!

TTagetes minuta

This rather unprepossing plant is Tagetes minuta, a half hardy annual and presumably a weed in its native Mexico, which is reputed to kill the roots of my nemesis, Aegopodium podagraria or ground elder.  I heard about it by chance in comments on a Facebook page and decided to check it out on the interweb. Sure enough, even the sage Sarah Raven sings its praises and claims to have cleared a bed of ground elder with it. I have ordered a large packet of seeds for a few pence which will be incredible value if it really works.

According to those who should know, the plant has herbicidal root secretions which destroy the roots of perennial weeds such as ground elder, lesser celandine and couch grass. It is apparently 2.5m tall with finely cut foliage and small creamy yellow flowerheads which are unlikely to turn heads but who cares! If it gets rid of the ground elder and celandines in my prize herbaceous border I don’t care how ugly it is just as long as it doesn’t kill all my other plants as well.

I will make this one of my summer projects with regular updates. I would be very interested in your comments about this subject, particularly from people who may have tried it.


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A good friend kindly brought me some coppiced hazel peasticks today to support my tall perennials before disaster strikes in May. Normally I am way too late putting any supports in. I wait until it’s too late and then prop things up. What a mess! I am gradually learning that a stitch in time saves nine and putting the supports in early._DSC0020 (1)

I was pleased with how the birch circle responded to having six inches of garden compost heaped on it in November. I cleared almost everything above ground apart from the three immature Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ which I hope will eventually provide winter contrast to the Jacquemontii silver birches. I then emptied three barrow loads of compost over the whole area because it had become impossible to weed amongst the surface roots of the birches. The anemone blanda and narcissus have come through without any trouble as well as the inevitable lesser celandines. It looks great at the moment and I just hope the hairy bittercress and chickweed are reduced this year. _DSC0025

I have given up the battle with lesser celandines in the photinia hedge border; it is a battle I was losing anyway because the root tubers are soil coloured and therefore impossible to identify. The recommended treatment is Glyphosate but that would kill everything else including the anemone blanda which, actually, looks good with the yellow celandine flowers! And anyway, by June all the foliage is gone and I forget them for another year._DSC0014 (2)

These wild primroses are everywhere at the moment and multiply like mad in my sticky clay soil. Once the flowers are over I split the clumps and transplant them under the hedges to spread them round a bit. It’s one of the joys of Spring.

Black Widow

I am told this is Iris tuberosa. It just popped up behind my back today. I didn’t plant it and I’m not sure I like it. The common name of Widow Iris suggests something nasty is about to happen to me! My wife is giving me funny looks! Is it a sign? 

Green Shoots


Euphorbia characias

At long last, things are beginning to get going in the garden. I find winters very depressing and this year we took the plunge and went away for two weeks in February to find some sunshine in the Caribbean. It was wonderful but it also reminded me of how lucky we are to have seasons. In Barbados they have summer all year round. I came back itching to get out into the garden full of ideas and enthusiasm. The holiday obviously worked!_DSC0004

All around the garden the green shoots of spring are appearing. Time to get the slug pellets down before the Delphiniums get munched! They revel in the damp conditions and enjoy the annual mulch of mushroom compost._DSC0014

The rhubarb is almost ready for the first pickings. I have downsized from 9 plants to 3 as we couldn’t cope last year. There is only so much space in the freezer! I was delighted to find it transplants so well, hardly any check to its growth since being moved in December._DSC0013

The Clematis macropetala ‘Wesselton’ is about to unleash it’s beautiful violet blue double flowers to give a wonderful display right outside the garden room window which always lifts my spirits. I pruned this back hard for the first time after flowering last year and it looks like it was the right thing to do. I am always a bit of a wuss when it comes to pruning but it just goes to show that the plants respond and improve as a result of a good haircut!_DSC0011

It’s far too early for tulips but these little beauties obviously haven’t heard. Should be in flower next week! Tulips in mid-March, is that a record?!_DSC0018

I always start seed sowing too early but I was keen to fire up the propagator and get on with it. Just a few of the usual suspects here, nothing to get excited about. Masses of Lychnis chalcedonica in the corner, the majority of which will probably end up in the compost bin. Why do I never sow just a few? I know they will ALL germinate!_DSC0021

This, however, is a first for me, Heliotrope arborescens ‘Marine’, or Cherry Pie plant, which I saw again at Bourton House last year and fell in love with its scent. The head gardener told me she keeps it going each year by taking masses of softwood cuttings and keeping them frost free over winter. But you have to start with seeds! Looks promising at the moment.