Posted in Personal life, Writing

Learning to Love the Bindweed

A post about garden weeds was originally written for the October issue of the Hawkesbury Parish News – plus recommended autumn reads.

“One year’s weeds is seven years’ seeds.”

So a neighbour warned me, casting anguished looks at my disorderly flower beds not long after I’d moved into the village.

Much as I tried, the weeds always seemed to appear faster than I could pull them up. I tried not to let them get me down, telling myself that by the end of August they’d all stop growing anyway.

Not so now. As I write, two-thirds of the way through September, one kind of weed is still going strong. I shall forever remember 2023 for the Summer of the Bindweed.

Well-watered by the copious rainfall throughout July, August, and part of September, it seems to have risen to the top of the hierarchy of local garden invaders. Its growth has been as speedy and spectacular as that of Jack’s beanstalk, but instead of reaching for the sky, it’s been twisting and tumbling about the place. The effect is elegant and sculptural, and rather appealing until you realise how many plants it’s smothering. It wraps its stems around my shrubs and flowers like a spider spinning its silk around its prey.

When I was a small child, I was enchanted by bindweed’s flowers, which fitted so neatly on my fingertips or made hats for tiny dolls. (At that stage, I had a penchant for pocket-sized dolls, which I could sneak into school for company.)

I remember having an earnest conversation with my father when I was about six, as he waged war against bindweed in our suburban garden. He listened and seemed to understand why I loved it so much, but he went on grubbing it up by the handful.

Perhaps I should have worked harder to defeat it in my garden this year. I consult a horticultural handbook, hoping for reassurance. Its initial description of bindweed makes it sound beautiful: “heart-shaped leaves and white trumpet-like flowers”. It goes on to explain that bees love its pollen, and moth larvae thrive on its leaves.

Who wouldn’t want a pretty, romantic plant like that in their flowerbeds? Shouldn’t we all be encouraging bees and moths in our gardens?

But then the handbook casts sentiment aside and condemns bindweed for its evils:

  • its perennial roots self-propagate when broken up
  • stealthy underground stems spread over a wide radius
  • seeds lurk underground, viable for years, ready to sprout the minute you lower your guard

My heart sinks. Having let the bindweed run rampant this summer, it may be impossible to eradicate in future. If all else fails, next spring I’ll just have to learn to love bindweed all over again. After all, as another village neighbour reminds me:

“Weeds are just flowers that are growing in the wrong place.”

Recommended Autumn Reading

Each of my novels is set in a particular season, and I try to convey in them my love of the Cotswold countryside all year round. They all work as standalone books, so you can read them in any order, or start from the beginning of each series if you prefer.

If you  haven’t yet read my autumnal books yet, you might like to try:

cover of Murder at the Vicarage Murder at the Vicarage (Sophie Sayers #2)
(originally published as Trick or Murder?)
This adventure place in the run-up to Halloween and Guy Fawkes’ Night. When the strange new vicar, the Reverend Septimus Neep, arrives in Wendlebury Barrow, he immediately alienates Sophie and Hector by trying to ban treasured village traditions, including the Halloween Ball that is meant to be Sophie’s first date with Hector. They soon find themselves on a dangerous trail of someone who is not all he seems…

cover of Sinister Stranger at St Bride'sSinister Stranger at St Brides (Gemma Lamb #2)
(originally published as Stranger at St Bride’s)
It’s the second half of the autumn term at the quirkly girls’ boarding school where Gemma Lamb is settling in as the new English teacher. As she returns from the half-term break, a strangely familiar man turns up to lay claim to the school’s estate. With a little help from her new friends, Gemma Lamb investigates the truth about his identity in her quest to save the school…


cover of The Natter of KnittersThe Natter of Knitters (from the Tales from Wendlebury Barrow series of novelettes)

When autumn brings foggy days and cold nights to Wendlebury Barrow, Sophie joins a village charity project to knit scarves for the homeless, but a reclusive newcomer takes the WI’s plans to stage a “yarnbombing” incident too literally. This heartwarming quick-read story provides a a happy ending for all concerned and shows rural community life at its best.


  • All of my books are available to order worldwide as ebooks or print books wherever you prefer to buy your reading matter.
  • The novels are also available as hardbacks and audiobooks.
  • If you have any problems tracking down the book of your choice, please let me know and I’ll come to your rescue.


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.

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