What’s A Weed?


By Lynne

I recently returned from a trip to visit my family in Australia and, although the people are the primary reason for going, there’s the secondary benefit of seeing all the different flora.

So much that is quite unrecognizable, particularly in the way of Australian native plants, but mixed in with the familiar.  A cool summer in Adelaide meant that the roses were glorious (some years they struggle in the +40ºC temperatures).

It seems to be human nature to want something which is different.  Here we struggle to grow Agapanthus in a sunny and protected location; there the massive blue and white heads make informal hedges and clumps everywhere.  In

Agapanthus growing with abandon in New Zealand

fact they grow so well that they’ve happily seeded themselves in ditches and along roadsides in many parts of Australia and New Zealand and become noxious weeds.  In a country where the ivy geraniums don’t die over winter but instead take on shrub-like proportions, there are ideal germinating conditions.   The stately stands of pampas grass in gardens did so well and spread far beyond gardens that a massive campaign of eradication ensued.  (Reminds one of the lonely Scottish settler who brought those first broom seeds to the Island.)

Pampus Grass

Years ago I remember my uncle proudly showing me his patch of Ranunculus.  This was not the large-blooming colourful varieties we might try, but the simple buttercup which reminded him of the countryside of his youth in England, and it was having a real struggle in the heat of an Australian summer!