Written on a page in a garden journal, 'Cleavers' is just a bland noun with a silly s on the end. But in my garden, oh my goodness! It's transformed into a cartoon garden baddie, covered in scary sticky fingers, out to get me. It's menacing, sneaky and annoying, with an unpleasant personality. Blast Cleavers! Delete! Backspace! Delete!
This morning I visited a friend's town garden, a real cutie. But, as it should be in all real gardens, some areas were flush with the prettiest of flowers and shrubs, while others were definitely 'under development'. And yes, there were weeds in places. Aargh! Cleavers was running rampant through a row of pretty miniature Agapanthus.
I was so tempted to coax the clumps gently out, and fling them skywards with a warrior-like flourish. But my friend is a new friend, and so I restrained myself. I am not a fuss-pot nit-picker in my own garden, and wouldn't want to be thought of as such. There's just something about Cleavers that puts me on the offensive.
So why am I here, busily writing about it, instead of tackling the Cleavers issue in my own garden? Hmm. Would it help if I proper-named and thus proper-shamed it? Get thee gone, Galium aparine, with many common names including 'cleavers, clivers, bort, bedstraw, goosegrass, catchweed, stickyweed, robin-run-the-hedge, sticky willy, sticky willow, stickyjack, stickeljack, and grip grass, herbaceous annual plant of the family Rubiaceae... Thanks, Wikipedia, and thanks to Richard Whelan for his image.
Apparently it's edible when cooked, and can be used to stuff a mattress, but I won't be trying any of that out. I'm off to search and destroy, not eat and sleep.
Oh really? I dug out huge clumps of Alkanet (leaving huge pieces of root behind, I know, I know). And I dug out dandelions, and I pulled out clover. Not a piece of Cleavers in sight, where I was working (the Allotment Garden). The honey bees buzzed around me - 'Don't pull out our food!'. I assured them that my garden was chock-full of Alkanet, and they would hardly need to fly more that five seconds to find some more. Hmm...
Friday 13th October
We have been to the dog park again. Apart from a mini-whoopsie with a pushy husky, Pebbles was calm and attentive, very much enjoying her dog-self, trotting around with our dog pack. Some mornings the thought of 'training' Pebbles at the dog park is a big energy-challenge. Isn't it easier to wander around the orchard and throw sticks? But I'm always glad when we do go.
The only way to learn how to socialise is to socialise, after all. That's true for people (me) as well as dogs. On the way home I replenished the House Merlot and bought a steak pie and strawberries for lunch. Yum? Separately, yes!
Dogs on the Lawn
And I've been weeding for three hours - again no Cleavers in sight - and it's late lunchtime. The pie has slipped down effortlessly. I've just slopped the healthiest, non-sweetened, probiotic (?) organic yogurt on my strawberries - and doused the whole bowl with icing sugar, hee hee. I guess I should do some more gardening, but it's quite hot outside. It feels like summer - read a good book in the shade and sip a cold cider. That sort of thing.
And Much Later...
I've been spreading mulch on the first path into the Hump (five barrow loads). And weeding, crawling along on hands and knees, trying to keep myself going. There are so many things to do! Then it seems I've been weeding for ever, so I plod inside. But hey! Another two hours done. I decide that I've been very good, after all, so I am allowed to get my book and sit on the patio underneath the Wisteria.
Yeay! The Wisteria, growing back, after a shocking fungal demise at ankle-height, the oddest semi-death that I've witnessed in my garden. But here we are, five years on, and the two plants have regrown enough to start covering the top of the pergola - and to produce enough flowers for a picture. So fragrant.
Clematis up the Cabbage Tree
Actually we had the national high temperature of the day - twenty-four degrees Celsius. Wow!
And After the Weekend...
Well, not much of a chance to pull Cleavers out, I'm afraid - I've had lots of family and musical commitments. But I have used my squirty bottle (filled with something unmentionably nasty) on the dandelions in the Frisbee Border, where I noticed another garden baddie - Clematis montana! Non-Gardening Partner has mowed the lawns, and I've tried out my new garden shears, chopping off grass seed-heads (yet more garden baddies) along next-door's boundary with my Allotment Garden.
Some Nosy Neighbour News
Next-door is up to something! Late Sunday afternoon diggers and scrapers started work lower down, near the road, 'building' some sort of weird retaining wall, AKA boundary fence. Hmm. Not sure I understand the concept, or the need for major earthworks, but NGP assures me that a wall of soil on the boundary will not harm my garden or his Deodars. So that's that, I guess.
Please don't tell me I'm wrong. 'Cos I reckon that since Cleavers is an annual weed, I don't actually need to pull all the roots out. Right? Hmm...