September 28 2021
Next year I’m going to stay on top of those weeds. So I say. This is a salve to my nagging conscience that keeps telling me to get those weeds pulled-now! I admire gardeners who actually accomplish this, but my gardens are almost never weed free. And then I have those discussions with myself about what actually constitutes a weed-we all have to decide where to draw the line.
Many weeds are edible or medicinal and some choose to let them grow for these reasons. My criteria is whether or not the plant will spread so much that it will take over-unless the payoff is bigger than the weeding caused. Like poppies, they’d be everywhere if I let them, but are beautiful, bees love them, and I just remove most of the plants when they are done flowering. I don’t allow purslane or dandelions (edible) or thistles, bindweed, white top or other noxious weeds.
Perpetual weeds aside, I love fall-a gentler sun and clear crisp mornings renew my enthusiasm. I can’t wait to get outside in the morning. True, there is the looming threat of winter’s short days, but a small recompense is that all those missed weeds, unruly borders and whatever else I didn’t get to will soon become irrelevant. Another season is coming and move on we must.
One job that can’t wait until spring is digging dahlias. Those tubers will be killed by our frozen ground and must be stored in a frost free location, though not too warm, too dry or too wet. Dahlias are a bit high maintenance, some need to be staked or tied up and sometimes they’ll sunburn besides the winter storage thing. But oh, they are astoundingly beautiful and there are tens of thousands of varieties in a wide range of colors and sizes and petal shapes.
Dahlias are native to higher elevations of Mexico and Central America-the Aztecs grew them as symbolic of the sun gods. From there they were brought to Madrid Spain in the late 18th century and eventually back to the Americas and us. I look at my gardens and think of the long road and many hands it took to get these plants to me. I am the beneficiary of centuries of this relentless human trafficking in plants.
My dahlias have been blooming for about two months (I start them early in pots in the greenhouse) but the first frost will put an end to that glorious show and it’s time to dig them up. And next year I’ll get new colors and next year I’ll keep the weeds under control. Next year’s an easy place to live, isn’t it?
Dahlia pinnata, (actual Latin name)name, after Swedish botanist Anders Dahl