At the risk of being made fun of, one of my favorite tasks in the garden is weeding. I think it gives you an opportunity to actually experience your garden rather than just passing by and admiring it. As each weed is pulled you get a sense of your soil composition, whether it needs tweaking or the work you’ve put into it becomes apparent. You may find an insect problem that you were unaware of that can now be attended to. Since you are so up close and personal with your plants in this task, delightful discoveries of next spring’s growth may come into view. It really just gives you that moment alone with your garden.
As you know my garden is still very small, so there has not been much need for weeding. However, last Saturday the sun was shining and temperatures were up; therefore, it was an irresistible day to get my hands dirty. My hydrangea collection has died back now, but the weeds have made homes for themselves all around them. It’s my fault really because I did not mulch properly when they were planted. I am very excited about this collection as I have wanted one for years. It includes: Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’, Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Dooley’, Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Charm’, Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Marseii Variegata’, Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Nikko Blue’, and Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’. I fell in love with the Marseii Variegata and Annabelle while working in the Milton Gardens at school. The Limelight was part of a research study at school as well, but was stored in the shadehouse. Every time I would walk in there I thought it was a shame such beauty was trapped in those pots. Before I left I finally got the courage to ask my professor for one. I am thrilled to report that each one of these are already showing signs of new growth! Pretty soon it will be time to cut the Limelight back, but the others will only receive selective pruning due to their species (you can cut off next year’s buds if not careful).
While weeding I got that “euphoric high” I always receive while working in my garden and this time it seemed intensified because it was the first time I had ever done any weeding in the front yard. As I continued a phrase popped into my mind, “mindful weeding”. Over the years I have made a point to understand the weeds I’m battling. Some of them are not so tricky, but two in particular can be stingy: Florida Betony and Oxalis. If you do not completely get the plant of this weed, you might as well hang your garden gloves up. Florida Betony spreads by rhizomes (underground stems) and reproduces with tubers. In the fall they produce these tubers and in the spring flowers emerge with their seeds spreading it further. Therefore, it is important to tackle this weed in the fall. Coincidently the tubers are said to be edible, but that is not enough for me to keep them in my garden. Oxalis reproduces by bulbs, so if you want to defeat it, you must pull the bulb. Since both of these weeds are very prevalent in my garden I weed with a trowel in hand. It allows me to dig up the tubers/bulbs without breaking the plant possibly causing it to propagate rather than disposing of it. It takes a bit more time, but if you weed in this manner you will have better results in the long-term. It helps to be mindful of what you are doing.
As I thought more about this term, “mindful weeding”, and what it means to me, I realized that it can also refer to the psychological state we are in while weeding that can be beneficial. For me, weeding in the garden can almost be meditative. You’re not required to think very hard while working, so it gives your mind the freedom to relax and enjoy. While I pulled each weed with precision, I could hear the birds singing and feel the wind on my face. It was a rare peaceful moment that I took in completely. I hope you get the chance to mindfully weed in your garden real soon.