There are a few sayings about weeds. The favorite one is that weeds are just plants in the wrong place. Or plants the gardener doesn’t want. Or that we need the homeliness of the lowly to set off the beauty of the cultivated.


The plants I designate as weeds remain annoying, mostly unattractive and some seem hell bent on enveloping and destroying other plants. Recently, that’s been bindweed, which had never been a problem before. 

Mostly, though, my ultimate weed solution seems to be working pretty well. I just don’t let them have any space.

People who have nicely modulated and regulated garden beds do not do what I do. I see those gardens. There are clearly defined areas where a few perennials may dominate, but you can usually see where one plant ends and the other begins.

That is not possible in a few of my planted areas. In these, areas that I do not want to weed and need to just exist without too much tending, I have installed vigorous cultivars – or sometimes species – and allowed them to fight it out. 

It’s kind of like Anne’s method, but not quite, as none of these are classified as weeds by anyone I know. 

In the area shown at the top of this, hellebore, Solomon’s Seal (variegated), brunnera and a few hosta varieties are engaged in a raucous cacophony. I do swoop in and pull a few stems away just to even the visual balance, but rarely will I do more rearranging than that.

And there are no weeds. And by weeds I mean weeds: Bishop’s weed, bindweed, garlic mustard, mugwort, etc. There isn’t any room for them. Does it look crowded? Sure, kinda, but that works for me. If I do decide to pull a few things out, it’s only to replace things that I hope will be equally aggressive. 

Of course, it doesn’t work everywhere. That’s when you have to pull and mulch, pull and mulch, rinse and repeat. 

Maybe because my neighborhood is so urban, so dense with structures, bursts of greenery tend to look right. Maybe because in Western New York we have a shorter growing season than many, I don’t mind if the growth is a bit over-enthusiastic. 

It’s also true that a few of my neighbors have fully embraced weed culture, allowing huge patches of variegated bishop’s weed which happily self-seeds wherever it can, usually reverting back to the plain green type, as far as I can tell.

That’s alright. We all have our comfort zones.