I had a lovely evening giving a talk to the ladies of Crickhowell WI last week.  They are such a  wonderful and wise group of women, and are very welcoming of new members.  If you want a bit of company over a strawberry tea, a good day trip out – or to listen to some interesting speakers (!) - then you can join them by contacting Mrs Ronnie Corlett on 01873 810588.

In the gardens, that hot week that we’ve just had, and the thundery rain that followed, has certainly got everything growing.  I am having a bit of a pout as the rain flattened my newly-planted-out peas.  They were being petulant and refusing to cling their lovely rustic hazel beanpoles and as a result of not clinging on, got pummelled by the rain.  I was heard to say to them, as I painstakingly tied them in – “I wonder how you would cope in the wild, without me to support you.”  I’m sure there will be more frustrations in the veggie plot yet.  Every year I recall how my Granddad and Dad made it all look so easy.

Something that neither of them grew though, is the ‘brand-new fruit’ – the red pineapple. Costing $400 and created by the ‘Man from Del Monte’, the “Rubyglow” pineapple took 16 years to develop. It is being described as an ultra-premium luxury ‘designer’ fruit that appeals to high-end consumers, and only a few thousand of the curious creations are set to be produced this year – hence the price tag – or maybe because of the price tag.  

And as I am struggling to grow peas at the moment, I don’t think I’ll be moving into posh-pineapple production any time soon.

Something that is growing very well for one of my client’s is Pearlwort.    This ‘menace of weed’ (her description) has ‘driven her to distraction’.  There are several varieties of Pearlwort in her garden - annual Pearlwort, or Sagina apetala, is, as the name suggests, an annual plant, also known as Dwarf Pearlwort – and is very much in evidence in the cracks in the paving. However the Pearlwort that is threatening to take over the bare spaces in the borders looks like a ‘much posher relation’ – one that has ‘done well for itself’ is Heath Pearlwort, (Sagina subulata) also known as Wild Pearlwort or Irish Moss.  Although it is not technically a Moss, but belongs to the Carnation family. I do love ‘plant families’ – they’re even more complex and complicated than the human type.

The real irony is that this ‘more substantial’ Pearlwort (Irish Moss) is the one doing the menacing – and as my research shows – can also be bought at your local garden centre, and is described as being excellent ground cover and suitable as a grass alternative for a lawned area.    It can also be bought as Sagina subulata var. glabrata 'Aurea' – a lovely vibrant lime green/golden variety.

 It always makes me smile – one Man’s (or woman’s) weed is another Man/woman’s flower.   I have had similar experiences with celandines – being asked to dig them out of the border in one garden and then asked to purchase and plant them in another; and the same with the little Mexican daisies, or Erigeron (or Fleabane) – so prolific at self seeding, they are often considered to be a ‘menace’, whereas they will be in another gardener’s trolley at the garden centre. And of course, their larger, several-times-removed cousins, the Ox Eyed daisies – hated by some gardeners, loved by others.  And which reminds me of that beautiful saying, “May all your weeds be wildflowers.”