The Cultivar Blog

Clients sometimes ask whether there’s an ideal time to begin designing a garden, and the answer is no. Every month of the year is perfect for some aspect of the design and planting process, so dive in and begin.
I’ll take my own advice, apply it to blogging, and just start. The Cultivar web site and blog are ready to launch now, at the height of gardening season in New England. No easing into it during the quiet days of winter.
And what is on my mind during the hot days of July? Weeds. In particular crabgrass, nut sedge and spotted spurge which are the terrors of my home terroir. I should know better by now, but every spring I remove cool weather weeds from my perennial border, and by June they have given up and stopped growing back. “Ah” I think, “this year I’ve done it; I’ve beaten the weeds. An ounce of prevention beats a pound of cure, etc., etc” I pick peonies and roses and congratulate myself for being on top of things.
And then we get our first run of summer days with blazing sun and temperatures in the 80’s and 90’s. Thank goodness the garden is mulched and the weeds are under control. After gardening for clients all day I’m glad to view the flowers from within the air conditioned house. Days pass, and it’s still hot. I take a quick peek early in the morning and see a few tiny weeds sprouting—so small. I’ll get them later, when it cools off.
You know what comes next, right?
Warm weather weeds, unlike cool weather weeds, go from microscopic to gargantuan in mere hours and, like icebergs, what you see above the surface is just a fraction of the mass forming below. I know better, and shouldn’t be outraged by the speedy aggressive growth of crabgrass, spurge and nut sedge, but they sneak past me every season. You go from being ahead to behind on maintenance in a split second.
So now I’m pulling nut sedge, crabgrass and spotted spurge every day with more sprouting as soon as one batch is gone. These tyrants rule my days because THEY MUST NOT SET SEED. If you eliminate weeds before seeds form, next year you will have fewer weeds. Allow them to seed and a tidal wave of weeds will slam the garden. In past years the weeds won, so there’s a bottomless stockpile of seed in my soil. Maybe a few seasons of vigilance will tip the balance in my favor, but take this as a cautionary tale and stay on it!