Thursday, July 23, 2009


It was a crisp winters day so I warmed up at school by doing some pruning and weeding. Twelve months ago I planted a row of gauras (Gaura lindheimeri) and anisodonteas (Anisodontea capensis) in a bed beside a north facing building. It is a dry area that is never watered and I thought these two species might be okay with that. Well they certainly were! The anisodonteas (I think its 'Tara's Choice' or 'Tara's Wonder') grew like the clappers as did the gauras that were in flower from spring through to autumn. We don't seem to have a lot of pretty pretty flowering plants at school which is the other reason I chose these plants. With the small but regular amounts of rain we've been getting over the last couple of months and the relatively mild weather, the plants and the weeds have grown apace. The anisodonteas have quadrupled in size and were smothering the gauras. A crop of stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) and common mallows (Malva neglecta) had appeared and even in midwinter because of the location a couple of patches of couch grass (Cynodon dactylon) were still green and growing.
The wretched mallows were almost waist height with roots as thick as my thumb and the couch roots had gone down a foot. At least the soil was moist down a fair ways so it was easy to dig. I spent an hour pulling all the weeds out, cutting the gauras back to their forest of new shoots and reducing the size of the anisodonteas by half. Like the salvias (previous post) the anisodonteas appear to be a bit fragile in a school setting - that or they're just growing too quickly and the weight of the branches makes them split. Even in the middle of winter they are carrying quite a few small pink flowers. The pruning will help to keep the bushes compact (and eventually produce more flowers) and might reduce the risk of splitting. Winter grass is coming up everywhere too but there was so much of that I'll have to go back on the weekend and spray it with some glyphosate. Its been great getting the rain but I could do without the weeds......

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