Wells Voice Article August 2021

Picture above: Cinnabar Moth caterpillar at work on Ragworth plants.

Margery Fish, the celebrated creator of the East Lambrook Manor Cottage Garden, maintained that “clearing bindweed is far more exciting than golf or fishing”. Some of us wouldn't necessarily go as far as that since Convulvulus is one of those tenacious and frustrating plants we call weeds. Satisfaction in tackling it is rare as there is always that last remnant of teasing string entangled in the root system of a favoured plant. Certainly it would appear in pretty well every gardener's list of pernicious weed. I was once told that excavators at work on the construction of Portbury Dock in Bristol found roots of bindweed over 40 foot down. Which just underlines the point that what we call weeds are true survivors, inherently vigorous, feisty and only surrendering after a fight. And, unlike Mrs Fish, we probably spend many an ill-tempered hour on hands and knees grubbing, gouging, forking and yanking what are basically wildflowers which colonise our verges and hedgerows to delightful effect. This year Goose Grass or Cleavers has been rife for some reason and has blossomed most prettily alongside the Palace Moat with its clouds of tiny white flowers softening the railings by the path.  

On the other hand we all have a favourite weed, as we call them, or if not favoured, then tolerated. In this garden, Herb Robert and Enchanter's Nightshade only get attention when they have finished their natural cycle. In the meantime they prettily fill gaps in the borders. Moreover, room has been found for a couple of plants of Ragwort on which some relocated Cinnabar Moth caterpillars have been at work. One caterpillar's meat is another creature's poison. 

While Nature's frantic season continues apace, what of the Club's activity? In June nearly forty of us met together in Stoberry Park's extensive and brilliantly planted garden. A morning when the sun shone, the flower borders and beds were at their peak and we seized the opportunity to do much catching up for the first time this year as social contact has been so tricky. Another chance was taken last month as guests of James Cross, Head Gardener at the Bishop's Palace, on an evening visit to the stunning gardens. As for August we shall be visiting Milton Lodge Gardens which always gives pleasure.  

Things are slowly and still tentatively returning to familiar patterns. Tidying the borders continues but our regular seasonal meetings in the form that we are accustomed to are still some time ahead. The website will post details of future plans. Pip