In this, the 400th anniversary year of William Shakespeare’s death, I repeat a question pondered in Hamlet:
To be or not to be..
But I ask this about a plant, a weed no less, and consider whether or not it should be hoicked out.
The offending plant is the Three Cornered Garlic (also called Stinking Onion), Allium triquetrum. I’ve heard people refer to it as Wild Garlic, but it is not to be confused with the official Wild Garlic (or Ramsons), Allium ursinum. It’s very invasive but apart from one garden that I worked in, I’d never really noticed it in London before. Until the last year or so that is, and now I’m seeing it everywhere in my local area, from gardens to paving cracks.
In the community kitchen garden where I volunteer, it’s generally removed where it pops up. But the new maternity-cover supervisor is allowing a clump of it to tarry on the wild bank where herbs, fruit and veg aren’t cultivated, much to the vexation of a long-standing volunteer who thinks it should be yanked out. Given the pervasive tendency of this stinker, is it irresponsible to let it remain? Even though it is being monitored and kept in its place? The leader likes it because she picks the flowers so they can be used as table decoration in the cafe, and the leaves are being served up in salads there. The flowers can also be eaten, as I learned last week – a mild cucumbery flavour to begin with, followed by quite a pungent garlic kick.
So, does Allium triquetrum have a place? Re-phrasing Shakespeare:
To hoick or not to hoick, that is the question..
Answers on a piece of parchment please..
Here’s a plant I don’t expect to see growing in the cracks of a pavement: Violet! There were window boxes nearby, so presumably self-seeded from there.. though it’s also at the bottom of a drain pipe, so maybe the seeds washed down from higher up..
Combining two themes from previous posts – street plants and graffiti – here is my contribution to Loose and Leafy’s linkbox page: Street Plant Bloggers.
This artwork is to be found on the side of a pub in Highgate, but recently has often been hidden by a board left resting against the wall. On my way to a job last week and with a few more stops before my destination, I spotted that the board wasn’t there for a change. I jumped to get off the bus to take a photo of the painting with the weed I knew to be growing at the foot of both the wall and Audrey Hepburn.
The urban wild plant in question is, I believe, Greater Celandine (Chelidonium majus). To confirm my suspicions, I could’ve broken off a piece of the plant to see if it dribbled latex, typical of the Poppy family to which it belongs. But I didn’t think of it – I was in a a rush, remember… Traditionally, its latex has been used to remove warts, and the plant was popular in cottage physick gardens. It’s not a weed I spy very much. Others nearby include Dandelion. At the moment, with cooling temperatures and daylight hours shortening, Chickweed is germinating, preferring these conditions to those of high summer. There’s lots of it about, fuzzing up pavement cracks and edges.
For more posts on pavement plants, go to looseandleafy.blogspot.co.uk
Me, I love a weed! I became a gardener through an interest in weeds and wild flowers. Having done some conservation voluntary work in my early twenties, I realised we can do a lot for biodiversity and wildlife in a city context through gardening. I like a weed’s reminder that, though we may like to think it, we are not masters of the universe.
Here’s a pic I took yesterday whilst out-and-about in London with a visiting friend. I originally stopped to look at the faces which were situated low down on a wall along St. Mary at Hill.. and then I noticed the weeds.. My friend, also a gardener (quite a different type to me!) started pulling them out, before I told him off!
If you liked this post, pop over to looseandleafy.blogspot.co.uk who collates a page of contributions from people who blog pictures of street plants. And, if you’re hungry, try eatweeds.co.uk