The horrors of Horsetail… (Equisetum arvense)

The garden is infested with Horsetail or Mare’s tail.

In the garden there were slabs set into mill-waste then concrete around the edges of the grass.  We took up this pink and buff coloured eyesore and replaced it with slate paddlestones to compliment the slate style patio next to the house.  The Mare’s tail was already there and had grown between the slabs and the concrete sub base.  The long black runners were visible in some places and in others were completely below ground.  Unfortunately it now has free reign and has spread further into the grass and even made its way up into the new raised beds through the weed membrane…

Mare's tail growing in the path by the steps

It is unstoppable!

I read about a gas weed burner.  Apparently this small device can be used on paving and paths and is good for perennial weeds.  Heating or lightly singeing the weeds will make them die back.   This needs to be done repeatedly but should be easier than hand weeding…  The burner I saw was small, had an ignition switch and took a gas bottle the size of an aerosol can…

My ‘other half’ went to the hire shop and was very enthusiastic about the burner he found there.  Here it is…

Gas burner

Initially I wondered why it was covered in tar,  this made sense when I read the leaflet and found it was used for working on flat roofs! At this point I felt rather nervous and went to fill up the watering cans!

burning weeds

When lit, which was rather difficult, it certainly was powerful.  From the safe distance of the house I could see clouds of burning weed and chunks of blacked Mare’s tail blowing into the evening sky.  It was rather noisy too…

Negotiating the plants, wooden raised beds, grass and pots was done without injury.  It was a very high powered device and was rather ‘over specified’ for this task.  The weeds weren’t just heated up they were incinerated.  We only used this in the path and had water ready to damp down all the areas that were affected.

The ‘Before’ picture is above, so here is the ‘After’ picture.

burnt Mare's tail in the path

I wonder how long it will take before it grows back?  I will enjoy the Mare’s tail free garden while I can!

So until next time…

Sunshine and blue flowers!

Camassia quamash – well worth waiting for!

I added a new banner picture today because I was so thrilled with these flowers and, as you can see, the bees love them!

I ordered the bulbs from Sarah Raven last autumn.  I hoped that they would look stunning left to naturalise in the grass as I had already decided to let it become a ‘wild meadow’.  Carol Klein’s wonderful book, ‘Life in a Cottage Garden’ described them and the photos looked too good to resist.  What do you think?

Camassis in the grass

I realised a couple of years ago that the grass was never going to be a ‘lawn’.  The endless routine of scarifying, moss killing, weed-and-feed was not for me.  At our previous garden we had a ‘wildflower meadow’ at the far end under a mature tree.  In this small garden I realised that I missed the constant buzz of insects, the changes throughout the season and the sheer variety of plants, flowers and wildlife that it attracted.

So, I decided that I could try to adapt our small suburban patch of grass.  Here is a more detailed view of the Camassia.  They are such a rich blue, not purple like the flowers on the Chelsea Flower Show television programme this evening.

Camassis flower and bumble bee

A welcome surprise this evening after work… next I need to see whether any of the tomato seeds are worth keeping.

Lets hope the sunny weather is here to stay!