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Weeds and wildflowers


by Pippa Greenwood

What's the difference between wildflowers and weeds? They're at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to acceptability in the garden, but are they really so different?


Weeding violet flowersWhat's the difference between wildflowers and weeds? They're at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to acceptability in the garden, but are they really so different?

A weed is a essentially just a plant growing in the wrong place. But what control freaks we are if we think that should be the case! A couple of days ago I took a note round to a neighbour. It was a glorious, sunny day, so I decided to walk. And I was blown over by how beautiful the banks and verges were, that I usually miss when driving past them in the car.

The lanes and verges were awash with primroses, mosses, ferns, and masses of gorgeous violets, whose stunning leaves and pretty little purple faces made my heart sing. I was yet again reminded how lucky I am to live in a part of the world so well adorned with wildlife and wildflowers.

But only last year was I on my hands and knees, weeding out violets from paving cracks, stone walls and even the compost of potted plants. I wonder how many perfectly good plants we chuck in the compost heap each year? Those wonderful violets and all those other plants that are pefect wildlflowers in one place but unwanted weeds in another!



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Talkback: Weeds and wildflowers
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Gardeners' World Web User 16/04/2009 at 19:37

Hi. Apologies if this is the wrong place for questions... I am a gardening novice, and have experimentally sown Aquilegia, cornflower, poppy and Nigella seeds in my flowerbed. How, erm, do I know what are weeds, and what are my actual plants?? It seems to be the same seedlings coming up (or do ALL seedlings start with just two small leaves??). Sorry if it sounds a silly question. (Feel abit intimidated being on the Gardeners World website!)

Gardeners' World Web User 16/04/2009 at 20:29

Hi Lizzie, Just have patience and wait and see what comes up. If it is a wild patch of garden then a few weeds shouldn't make all that much difference.But in a while they will all show their true colours and you can pick out what you don't want there. good luck.

Gardeners' World Web User 16/04/2009 at 20:44

I know it's a little unusual, but I think that sometimes, dandelions can be really beautiful. Where we live, there's a field just behind our house that's full of the things, so trying to get rid of them is a futil exercise, and they make the lawn so pretty.. not so keen on them in the beds though!

Gardeners' World Web User 16/04/2009 at 20:52

I bought 2 bags of Miracle Gro organic peat free compost to plant my vegetable seeds in. The firt bag grew seeds brilliantly the second also greww goos little plants BUT they are surrounded by tiny fungi why is this and is it alright to use the plants in the affected pots? Will they spore and infect everything else they ar on my kitchen window sill at present.

Gardeners' World Web User 17/04/2009 at 09:27

The weeds I pull out in the Botanic garden are pounced upon by my colleague - an American lady. She finds a lot of them quite beautiful and takes them to her allotment to cultivate. This has me searching my wildflower book for their names as she likes our common names as well. I agree,Pippa,familiarity does breed contempt and we should treasure what we have. Luckily for us we have a new wildflower meadow to look forward to in the Garden.

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