July 23, 2010, a stormy, hot Friday morning at 6 a.m., I listed preparations for “The Lavender Infused Life” workshop. Scheduled at 2 p.m. that afternoon for farm visitors, I had not enough time to weed the fields. “Where are the weeders?” I penned in my journal. Meanwhile, weed seeds rooted and sprouted in and between the rows of lavender blooming beautiful shades of blue.
Thirteen years later, I now sometimes reach for the wrong cabinet for my spices, or forget to write a certain thank-you note. Yet, I remember the ever present dandelion, creeping Charlie, and creeping bellflower-to name three of many menaces thriving in our lawn and my flower beds.
It’s the same old story. Never enough weeders. I rise in the morning and lay down at night with weeds and weeders on my mind.
One lavender season, while an aspiring herbalist and hopeful farmhand and I tilled a field, the young woman panicked when she unearthed a worm. Truly.
Please know I made mud pies as a girl and found her phobia quite singular. I dared not tell the sweet, budding herbalist that a resident garter snake named Longfellow appears in my gardens and fields on occasion.
Later, in our private conversation at my kitchen table, I assured her, “If you want to grow and study herbs, you will encounter worms. They’re good and necessary. And all staff members must weed.”
She wept bitterly. “I’m sorry, but I cannot.”
“And I’m sorry,” I replied, concerned she might hyperventilate. This incident comes to mind whenever I chance upon a wriggling earthworm while turning the soil. I hope the young woman made friends with the creatures and is realizing her dreams. Believe me, I’d rather see earthworms in the soil than the relentless rhizome of the creeping bluebell, a grower’s nightmare to remove. I understand some human foragers consider the green shoot and leaf a delicious, nutritious salad.
And of all mysteries, this greedy plant was once grown as a culinary herb for salads. Today, some folk add the leaf to their smoothie for a dose of vitamin C.
With this in mind, could I feed the bellflower leaf to our chickens? Nope. The plant’s poisonous to poultry. Good to know!
Hmm…boil the leaves with bacon and season with vinegar, salt and pepper like collard greens? Well, I do believe what I need comes to me, so I’ll mull that over–research Campanula rapunculoides a bit more.
I conclude with good news! Tomorrow, Saturday, May 20 at 1:30 p.m., I introduce a new friend and weeder to my perennial island. Yes, I’ve given her fair warning of our adversaries.
“The black flies and ants are biting, so wear long sleeves and garden gloves,” I said. “The flies aim for your eyes, the ants for your wrists.”
Dear Reader, as you see, the gardener’s goal and reward is the pleasure of creating and maintaining a groomed, blooming garden.
Now, before I forget, there’s a few thank-you notes to write.
Contact Iris at irisfarmletters@gmail. com.