ISSUE 15, October 2005
Editorial
Historic: Nelson and Freemasonry
Grand Lodge: Pro Grand Master's Speech
Grand Lodge: Quarterly Communication
Hurricane Katrina: Grand Charity Relief Chest
Royal Arch: John Knight
Masonic Embroidery: A stitch in time...
Travel: Walzing along the Danube
Specialist Lodges: Martial arts
Library & Museum: The two Freemasons' Halls
    Anniversary: Jersey's Liberation
Anniversary: Dorset's 225 years
Obituaries: Lord Swansea OSM
Pro Grand Master: Whither directing our course?
Charmian Hussey: A Mason's wife on Masonry
International: The Grand Lodge of Israel
Education: Sheffield's big plans
Education: Forthcoming events
Education: The Second Degree
Masonic Charities
Letters, Book Reviews, Gardening

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© Royal Horticultural Society Lindley Library

Above:
Bindweed is difficult to eradicate

Below:
Coltís-foot is part of the daisy family
    The definition of a weed, according to agriculture colleges, can be anything from various different mosses and algae to a variety of plants or even a tree. A weed, according to Ian Le Gros, superintendent of the Queen Motherís Garden at RHS Garden, Hyde Hall, can be anything that grows, but is sited in a place where it isnít wanted.
     The most important thing about a plant or weed is its position. Are you happy with it growing where it is, does it fit in with the flowers around it or do you want to move it to a more suitable location, or eradicate it?
     There are several ways to get rid of them, depending on the type. Digging them up is an option, although you need to be careful as to when you do this as you could find that their seeds scatter during the operation, and you have propagated them by mistake. If you donít mind using weed killers it is always worth asking your local garden centre on which is the current, most effective one on the market.
     The contact variety, burning off the top part that you can see, is only effective on annual weeds. If you can, it is best to try and kill annuals before they flower and seed, as unfortunately within this range there are also ephemerals that have a life cycle from germination to seed of about six weeks.
     Translocating weed killers are used on perennial weeds that have a robust root system, or tap roots which tend to be very difficult to eradicate by hand-pulling or digging. These act by moving through the plant, including the root system, causing damage, and eventually killing it.
     Some weeds, however, such as Bindweed (Calystegia silvatica) may take more than one application, with the most effective treatment being applied late summer when it is in flower.
     Spring is the best time to clear the garden of weeds. When the weed seedlings emerge, this also tells you that it is time to sow seeds for outdoor displays as the soil is warm enough for germination.
     Mulches, which can be either organic or mineral, can then be applied over the soil surface to smother any potential weeds from germinating. Although you will still have some, they will be easier to pull out.
     Organic materials that can be used for mulching purposes are compost, composted bark, well-composted woodchips or spent mushroom compost. Mineral mulches such as grits, pebbles or stones should be washed for horticultural use to get rid of salts which could burn, damage or kill the plants.
     Fortunately, bags bought from nurseries are already washed.
     The type of mulch is decided through aesthetic considerations, and the density and size of the plants in the borders. Large shrub and tree borders can be mulched with quite chunky bark chips, whereas intense, densely planted herbaceous borders should be mulched with fine composted bark or garden compost.
     Where perennial weeds are a problem, you can use sheet mulches made from nursery fabrics or compost sacks, cut open and reversed, so that the black side is showing, and then covered with a more aesthetically pleasing mulch. Only do this as a last resort, as sheet mulches can be detrimental to the soil underneath.
     On the good side, it is worth remembering that many weeds are beneficial to the wildlife in the garden. Happy weeding!

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