Posted in Personal life

One Man’s Weeds

My column for the June issue of the Hawkesbury Parish News

Pegging the washing out on the line in the garden, I realise I’m knee-deep in dandelion clocks. The recent rains have brought the weeds on apace, as well as the glorious spring blossom.

photo of a single dandelion clock
It’s dandelion time…

But on a sunny day like this, I’m happy to forgive the weeds. After all, weeds are only plants that are growing in the wrong place.

I learned this important gardening truth at a very young age, berating my father for uprooting bindweed. I couldn’t understand how he could want to eradicate its beautiful pink and white flowers that fitted like fairies’ hats on the ends of my small fingers.

Photo of a single bindweed flower
Bindweed – love it or hate it?

My own nemesis is ivy, so rampant in my garden that I feel it should carry a government health warning when sold in garden centres. But I know it’s a haven for wildlife, and come Christmas, I’ll be glad of it for decorating the house.

Photo of ivy
The holly and the …

I’ve even learned to love blanketweed. I spent ages today twirling it like mouldy candyfloss round a garden cane, spring-cleaning our garden pond. The frog that was watching me work, like a small green planning officer, seemed glad to see the back of it. But beneath it, I was delighted to discover lots of frost-sensitive oxygenating plants, safely overwintered and multiplying beneath this insulating, er, blanket. They’d have cost a fortune to buy new in the garden centre.

So what’s not to love about weeds? Japanese knotweed? Bring it on!*

photo of Japanese knotweed
Inscrutable knotweed…


*No, not really! Not even I’m that much of an optimist!

If you enjoyed this post, you might like these other ones about gardening and garden produce…

Cover of All Part of the Charm
A collection of essays and columns about life in Hawkesbury Upton

…and All Part of the Charm, my new collection of essays about village life, including other columns written for Hawkesbury Parish News 2010-2015, now available to order in paperback and as an ebook here or from your local bookshop. 


(Photo credits:




English author of warm, witty cosy mystery novels including the popular Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries and the Gemma Lamb/St Bride's School series. Novels published by Boldwood Books, all other books by Hawkesbury Press. Represented by Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agents. Founder and director of the Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival. Course tutor for Jericho Writers. UK Ambassador for the Alliance of Independent Authors. Lives and writes in her Victorian cottage in the heart of the beautiful Cotswold countryside.

4 thoughts on “One Man’s Weeds

  1. Well, ‘let’s hear it for the weeds!’ Glad you are so positive towards them Debbie – they need love. I by contrast am the fiendish weed-puller, as well as the hammer of the snails … it really takes it out of a person to be so perfectionist in the garden, leaving less energy for writing … … I did keep the nettles for the butterflies to lay their eggs on, but no caterpillars so far … 🙂

    1. Gosh, hammering snails – that’s harsh! I don’t mind snails so much (probably comes from liking Brian the Snail on Magic Roundabout when I was little) but the thing I really cannot bear in the garden is slugs. Hence I am always very glad to see frogs in our small pond, knowing that they will take care of the slugs for me. I am not sure whether they also eat snails – I’d imagine they’d have trouble getting the “wrappers” off!

  2. I did not know that the head of a dandelion is called a “clock.” How could I get to be this old and not know that? But thank you, Debbie, for rectifying that. And reminding me that I need to go tear down the ivy that is winding its way around the trunks of several trees in our yard.

    1. I don’t know whether this is the reason they’re called clocks is when we were little we used to use them supposedly to tell the time – you’d blow on them and for every puff it took, you added an extra hour to what the time was – so, three puffs and it was three o’clock. I don’t know whether there is any drop of truth in this theory e.g. that the little seed hang on tighter as the afternoon draws out, or whether we were just very gullible children!

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