This week was all about the battle with houttuynia cordata, also known as fish mint, fish leaf, rainbow plant, chameleon plant, heart leaf, fish wort, Chinese lizard tail, or bishop’s weed. I first discovered this growing in my garden soon after we moved in, and I’ve been trying to get rid of it ever since. It looks like the previous owners had been trying too, because while I was digging this week I found lots of polythene sheets under the flower beds at the bottom of the garden.
This loathsome plant grows from its roots and survives ANYTHING. There’s a great page with some disturbing but humorous comments about it here. Unbelievably nurseries are still selling this pernicious and stinksome weed as an attractive choice for ground cover. Apparently it is a medicinal plant, but unless it can tackle coronavirus, I’m afraid it will never endear itself to me.
I’ve come to the conclusion that any attempt to grow anything against the back fence is going to be doomed, because looking after the soil there will just make it easier for the houttuynia cordata to thrive. The only solution I’ve come up with is to dig up my bay tree in the corner (under which there is a particularly malignant outcrop) and grass over the whole area. On the plus side, this will provide a convenient walkway around all sides of my raised beds.
The other unexpected benefit to all the digging I’ve been doing is that I have a new friend in the garden. On the first day, this brave little robin started watching me from the safety of the shed.
After a day or two he got a bit braver and came down to sit on the fence above my head.
Then he got incredibly interested in what I was doing and came down to my feet. It was impossible to get a video of him there as he was hopping about a lot, and the sunshine made it difficult to focus on his brown back against the earth. Here’s a still image just before he hopped out of shot.
I did get on quite well with the digging and hopefully I’ve managed to get rid of a good proportion of the stinksome weed. I haven’t quite finished and we still need to dig up the roots of the bay tree, but it’s getting there.
I’m also pleased to report that the hydrangeas are still thriving.
There was more excitement this week when I discovered Huw Richards, a bright young gardener with an excellent YouTube channel. He’s a big fan of raised beds, so he’s going to be a fabulous mentor for me.
So here’s the state of play this weekend. I think it will take me another week to deal with the bed at the back, then perhaps it will finally be time to start on the raised beds!