I like to leave my flower beds alone until the ground starts warming up at some point in April – that way the bugs can enjoy the shelter of last year’s detritus while also letting this year’s early blooming weeds feed the pollinators in early spring. But I may have taken it a little too far.
I have spent a good hour or more, every day for over the last week cleaning out my road side bed that is home to my summer zinnias and my peonies with a few other plants in between, including mint. Somehow, in being lax about the early pollinator feeding weeds, I managed to almost crowd out the mint.
Let that sink in.
Y’all, I crowded out the mint.
I feel like this should revoke any sort of gardening authority I have cultivated over the years. I mean, it’s mint. Its reputation is that it takes over everything and that reputation is well deserved, as my wheelbarrow planter in the front yard can heartily attest. And yet somehow, I have found a way to almost, but not entirely, choke it out. This feels like a next level bad gardening achievement.
Also, garlic chives are way more invasive than anyone has ever told me and after making the mistake of planting them a few years ago, I’ve basically been battling them since. It took a combination of laying down cardboard and planting nothing in that section for two years except in pots that sat on top of the cardboard AND digging up every last garlic chive that came up by hand over the last three years to irradiate them. Mint was easier to kill.
The bed was so overrun with violets, chickweed, creeping Charlie and garlic chives that the only way to really clear it was to dig it up by hand if I was going to keep what was planted in there around the weeds, like peonies and other perennials. The good news is that spending all that time hand digging that bed made me really think about what I wanted it to be moving forward. I took stock of what was there, rearranged, thinned and moved some plants around. Made a plan for what to do with it this fall. You’d think I would do more of this, but I’m really more of a freewheeling gardener – I stick stuff in the dirt and see what happens. And that’s been my go-to bed for putting plants that I don’t know what else to do with but I want to grow for years, so as I hand dug that bed, I had to be selective and patient and diligent in pulling apart the roots of plants that I wanted to get rid of that were intertwined with what I wanted to keep – black-eyed susans, bee balm, yarrow, rudbeckia and more that I’ve been trying to encourage to fill in spots. And I mulched (!!) so that with the weeds (mostly) gone, I can do a better job of keeping them away, because one of these days, I really am going to be the gardener I write about being.*