You are scaring me, Lynne. I was thinking of getting rid of tansy and soapwort in my small garden (see post on Herbs, Potherbs and Herbaceous borders).
At 9.00 a.m. this morning a young man rang to say he would be calling round at about 10.30 a.m. to look at the garden for the local Town in Bloom competition. As it so happened only the soapwort and tansy and English mace were in bloom. The bugbane (Actaea simplex) hasnít produced its white fairy candles yet and the golden hop has only vestigial hops. I had pruned the curry plant, betony and lavender, which had been the main colour.
He came, surprisingly, with his 6 year-old daughter and I thought she would enjoy the scents of the lemon verbena, English mace, Moroccan mint and other wonderful smells, but she refused to smell anything and just played quite happily jumping from one stepping stone to another on the shale path.
I didnít win anything last year and donít expect to win this year, but I will have to look out for something that will give me something special in this late August period. It doesnít fit in with the normal garden as I am 90% herbal but I think he appreciated the little peaceful oasis in the urban desert. Incidentally, I bought a pleurisy root as featured on the cover of the latest Herbs magazine (see Home Page of website). Canít find it at the moment but that is certainly colourful. Could I have weeded it out by accident?
One good thing is that in the ninety minutes I gave the kitchen surfaces the best clean they have had in ages as the judge had to come through the kitchen.
August 17 2004, 2:16 PM
No soapwort in the garden but right next to the house in the lane is a big stand of it. It grows nowhere else in the area as far as I can see but my house used to be that of the midwife and layer-out of corpses in Victorian times so might there be a connection ?
August 17 2004, 7:53 PM
I think that is a valid idea. There were no branded soap bars till the late nineteenth century.
Lynne the Witch
Re: Soapwort and Gardens in August
August 17 2004, 10:03 PM
My garden is bright with calendula and nasturtium, both of which are, of course herbs. My chamomile looks lovely too at the moment. Not to mention loads of soapwort!!
Annuals are the Answer
August 18 2004, 9:00 AM
Yes, Lynne, annuals are definitely the answer. I did have a few nasturtiums, but apart from those none of the annuals I sowed came up. There were some nigella that self-seeded from last year but are not flowering now. In the front garden are some self-seeded Californian poppies, but the seeds I put in this year, which were a beautiful golden colour didnít come up. I have sown calendula each year for the last three years and never got one single flower.
Jan Greenland gave me some rare melilot seeds and I got a few to germinate inside in peat pots. I planted them out and they are gone. I also got some poppies to germinate (a free sample) and they have done quite well in a container, but they are not Papaver somiferum, so arenít herbal.
Next year I will mark where Iíve planted them with vermiculite as suggested by Monty Don and then they donít get weeded out.
There must be a problem with calendula round here. Any advice welcomed.
Lynne the Witch
Re: Annuals are the Answer
August 19 2004, 7:36 AM
It's funny you should say that Audrey. Calendula is supposed to be so easy to grow but I had the same trouble. Earlier this year I did a talk and was chatting to people afterwards. One man said he was overwhelmed with calendula and had loads in trays that he had been going to throw away. I followed him and his wife back to their house and they gave me loads. They've done really well. It will be interesting to see if they manage to seed themselves.
August 22 2004, 3:30 PM
I take it that soapwort is difficult to clear out of your garden once you have it?
Lynne the Witch
August 23 2004, 10:30 AM
Yes, like a lot of the herbs I grow. My husband gets annoyed when they all pop up all over the garden after having been put in my herb garden, but i don't really mind. Soapwort is very pretty! And useful of course
August 24 2004, 11:28 AM
I shouldn't worry too much about soapwort. It's not one of the dreaded foreign imports that are taking over the country and isn't at all difficult just to pull up. You could even hang on to a little bit of it because it is very pretty just at the time of year when the garden's beginning to look a little dessicated.
August 24 2004, 11:40 PM
If you let soapwort do its own thing it can take over a patch about 10ft by 4ft in four years (personal experience). However, a good dig over and extraction of the roots just the once, was all I needed to do. Yes, the odd bit has surfaced, but was quickly repelled. This does of course assume that there is nothing else in the soapwort area - if there is you'll have to dig it out and replant after digging out the soapwort.
Re: Thanks Sheila
August 26 2004, 8:17 AM
Many thanks for your information on how to solve my soapwort problem. I will go and start digging.
You guys are lucky to HAVE soapwort!
September 2 2004, 12:58 AM
I planted serious amounts of Soapwort: in the greenhouse, also propagators.. and all the seeds were from what I took to be the respectable firm of Suffolk Herbs.
I ended up with ABSOLUTELY ZILCH.
Similarly with Betony - the seeds were from Suffolk, the result was NADA. I am an enthusiastic small herb gardener, so - actually - my disappointment was quite severe... we gardeners only get a year at a time to raise these herbal wards of ours, and when it hits July & your Suffolk Herbs have produced b****r all, you don't have a second chance.
FWIW, I bought both the Soapwort & Betony seeds at Culpepers shop in C. Garden and then - desperate for a show in May - bought more Betony from Culpepers on Berkely Square. All this seed was utterly useless.
Re: You guys are lucky to HAVE soapwort!
September 2 2004, 10:46 AM
James, if you've got time to come up to Solihull or you're going to be at the Herb Society AGM on September 18th, you're very welcome to a large clump of soapwort.
September 3 2004, 7:10 AM
You could be having difficulty because soapwort and betony are wild plants and these have their own timetable when it comes to germination. I've tried growing betony from seed in the past and gained nothing. This year, knowing more about eratic wild plant germination, I just sowed it and left it and I do have some leaves, although it's a wild flower mix and I'm not sure what the leaves belong to! I'm hoping for fully grown plants and betony next year.
I used to say I couldn't germinate Good King Henry. This year I sowed it and after no-show forgot about it but didn't throw it out - and months later I got GKH plants. These could even be from my previous year's attempt as some wild plants, hawthorn for example, don't germinate until the second spring after the seeds/berries have formed.
So, don't throw those seeds out, sow them and wait - soapwort and betony will appear in their own time!
Happy herb gardening!
Lynne the Witch
September 3 2004, 7:49 AM
Yes, I've had problems germinating wild plants too sometimes. When I particularly want a herb and can't get it to geminate, I buy a plant and put it in the garden and propagate from cuttings or division. Often it will set seed itself as well. I'm going to the AGM too, so if anyone wants anything, let me know. I have quite a wide selection of herbs as I sell them but I'll share them with other members
Sarah Head asked:
September 8 2004, 12:33 AM
>>if you've got time to come up to Solihull or you're going to be at the Herb Society AGM on September 18th<<
Oh yes, Sarah: I am most certainly going to be there on the 18th.
And I am not the only one!
There is a lot of violent anger out here against the Establishment (LIST DELETED BY THE HERB SOCIETY) and I believe this will spill on to the streets at the AGM.
We herb lovers are a quiet bunch but the truth is that we have been taken for granted one year too many.
There is trouble brewing, and when trouble brews for long enough it pops it's cork.
Angry & frustrated,
FROM THE HERB SOCIETY
Named individuals and organisations have been removed from this posting because the Society, while encouraging lively debate, cannot condone defamatory remarks against individuals and organisations.
This message has been edited by herbsociety from IP address 184.108.40.206 on Sep 19, 2004 9:20 AM
James Nellany - Soapwort
September 9 2004, 9:07 AM
Why not go to your local Garden Centre and buy a Soapwort plant? This is what I did.
September 14 2004, 11:15 AM
I'll pack and send roots out of season to anyone who wants some. Also, I'm raising a huge great greenhouse in the next week or three and wondered if members have any experience with tender herbs I might experiment with in there?
What's all this about the establishment James? What has been going on ? I can't make it to the AGM as I'm already booked for Rufford Park so I'm going to miss the gossip. Also I noticed I'm not the only Mandy so I'll use my full name.
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