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.

Today’s Quiz

Today’s Quiz Question is actually more a plea for help to identify a roadside plant which caught my eye yesterday. 050

It was tall, at  least 1.2m, and grew in a large clump. It had the faintest blue flowers.051

I thought the leaves might give it away as they were quite distinctive but, Google has let me down on this one.054

I am sure it must be common and well known, but not to me!

Any ideas please?

Flowering Fortitude

Outside our home, at the top of the road, there is a wide verge with a scruffy hedge boundary and an area of poor soil which was scraped clean back in January when the adjoining school carried out some long overdue maintenance. The hedge and trees provide a valuable site for nesting birds in Spring and as cover to protect them from predators, particularly Sparrowhawks which are common in these parts. 

Rather than just accept the inevitable colonisation by pernicious weeds, brambles and ivy, I obtained permission to plant some bulbs, perennials and to sow some flower seeds. Frankly, given the dreadful sub-soil that was left, I doubted that anything but weeds would grow but, as my wife is fond of saying, “they’ve got two chances!”.

So, in April I mixed up a bucketful of sand with leftover seeds of Cosmos, Calendula, Cornflowers, and Sweet Rocket with some Borage and Phacelia, a native wild flower mix including Corncockle, Corn Marigolds and Poppies, and raked them lightly into the surface as best as I could among the roots and stones. Amazingly, there was a good rate of germination and the Phacelia in particular grew away strongly.

When we re-graded and levelled the garden three years ago we inadvertently spread Grape Hyacinth bulbs everywhere and they became a real nuisance, This year I systematically dug them up and relocated them to the verge frankly not caring whether they lived or not. Lo! and behold, up from the sub-soiled depths they have come! My neighbours got into the spirit and plonked in a few leftover tulip and narcissus bulbs and some bluebells. Since then, surplus Hollyhocks, Shasta daisies, Horseradish, hardy Chrysanths, Foxgloves and Nasturtiums have all been added and, hopefully, self-seeded for next year. Nothing grew particularly tall except the Corncockle which is obviously used to growing in poor, thin soils. Next best were the Phacelia and Calendula which relished the conditions and the Cosmos, from the arid deserts of Mexico, is still going strong in November!

I look forward to seeing what happens next year.