I practically did a jig round the kitchen table on Good Friday when Monty Don opened Gardeners’ World talking about how he pulled up cow parsley.
Sometime over the last two years he did a small piece on how he loved it. Something about the tall, airy white floatyness of it from memory. There he was standing in a sea of white describing how the programme would get letters asking how to deal with it, but he liked it so eradication wasn’t really his thing.
But now I have the full story. Thanks to Good Friday. Monty does pull it up from parts of his garden.
Two and a half years ago my husband and I (and 37 week bump) moved to a beyond beautiful house of our dreams. Attached to it was 1.7 acres. It would be incorrect to say we underestimated the amount of work it would take to keep under control. In truth we didn’t even think about it. We certainly didn’t talk about it to each other. The set up was exactly what we wanted so we figured we’d just do what was necessary.
Which would be fine if we knew anything about gardening and didn’t have a new born to contend with. (I did know a little.)
Which brings me to now and the cow parsley. Two and a half years of not really doing anything about cow parsley and it spreads – as only it’s lovely frothiness could. I read somewhere on the web that each plant can have as many as 1000 seeds. (Half my memory thinks 5000.) It’s been spreading into a bank of daffodils, onto the lawn, over a path and into (what we call) the meadow area, into a herbaceous border. It goes on.
I do like it. The tall, foaming froths, swaying in the gentle spring breeze. I’d probably like it more if I called it Queen Anne’s Lace (another of its names). But it is beginning to feel like a houseguest who’s in danger of over staying it’s welcome because it doesn’t tidy up and actively creates more mess.
So how to keep on top of it? #WWMD? (What would Monty Do?)
Watching Gardeners’ World on a Friday night has become a bit of an institution in our house. In short, I love watching Monty develop his garden and taking things through the seasons. I even study and pause sections to make notes or discuss options at home. So I was a little disappointed to see Monty didn’t have a solution for me in his earlier programme.
After some research and garden planning we decided to remove the cow parsley, sorry, Queen Anne’s Lace, this spring from one area of woodland so we can create a sea of bluebells. It’s taken us a bit of time to agree to this, both design wise and nature wise.
So seeing Monty on Good Friday describing it as a ‘thug’ that takes over his spring garden and having a desire to ‘thin it out’ was a jump for joy moment, and the evidence I needed to feel we were doing the right thing. (We worry about ruining what the previous owners left or doing something wrong!)
However, I wish we were at the stage of just thinning it out like Monty. There’s so much. We don’t want to eradicate it on mass with chemicals and can’t strim certain areas before it’s even flowered because we’d ruin the snowdrops dying off, so we’re left with pulling it up, BY HAND. It’ll probably take a few seasons to get rid of it from one section.
(The harder you yank, the more likely you are to just rip the hollow stem leaving the root still in the ground. It means hours bending over and gently teasing the root out. Back breaking stuff if you do it all day.)
Anyway, thank you, as ever Monty, and see you at Chelsea.