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Weeding our garden with … flowers

AT THE GARDEN THIS WEEKEND – They are low but full-bodied and so dense that their beautiful carpets prevent "bad" grasses from growing. What does the gardener want?

There are many ways to remove unsightly plants that come to our gardens. Whatever some purists think, quackgrass, dandelion or bindweed are herbs that must be controlled if we do not want to be overflowed. Let's not talk about chemical weed killers, banned from private individuals since January 1st, with the exception of organic acid-based specialties. The use of the hoe or hoe, advocated by those very people who, often, have never held a handle of their life, is acceptable on a small surface. But beyond a certain threshold, the operation quickly becomes a chore: the author of these lines can testify!

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More seductive, including agronomically, the technique of mulching, very often put forward in this section, has many advantages: saving time and fatigue, it enriches the soil, stimulates its microbial life, keeps its freshness ( which reduces the watering, other chore …) and prevents the seeds of "bad" herbs (sorry, I persist to call them like that) to raise while depriving them of light. The only small flaw: the aesthetic value of straw or bark spread on the floor can sometimes be open to debate. And we can not put everywhere!

This is particularly the case in the shade of tall trees where, lacking light, the grass is no longer able to grow, giving way to moss, then after a while to brambles or nettles (even if can make soup or purine). Same thing on very steep slopes, on stony grounds or, on the contrary, very wet, at the foot of shrubs or flowers to fill the gaps and not leave the ground bare.

PLANT SHEET – All about the culture of epimediums or "elf flowers"

Epimedium flower.

Epimedium flower. Harold VERSPIEREN_DIGITALICE / HVPM dev – stock.adobe.com

In all these situations, the use of carpet plants can be considered. Not exceeding 30 cm high, these plants are characterized by their dense and spread foliage, their robustness and a fast growing allowing them to cover in a rather short time the ground which is reserved for them. As a result, they compete with the weeds they choke and prevent from growing.

Plant of shade and undergrowth, the Pachysandra terminalis, which gives spring pretty little white flowers on the cob, is part of these "green weed killers" foolproof. "It's a great alternative to lawn: no weeds grow indoors and it does not require any maintenance. You just have to cut the alleys from time to time because it has a tendency to overflow "explains Didier Touzet, chief gardener of the oriental park of Maulévrier (Maine-et-Loire) which cultivates for nearly 30 years.

The little periwinkle (Vinca minor) fills the same office, always for the shaded parts of the garden. There are varieties with blue, pink or white flowers, as well as cultivars with variegated green and white foliage like 'Aureo-Variegata ' . There are also epimediums, better known as the "elf flowers", in particular the variety "Fronhleiten". These delicate, low-growing plants are quick to set up and make pretty ground cover with their both green and reddish foliage and yellow flowers with finely cut corolla, which hatch in April.

Green leaves

Common alchemilla leaf with its raindrop.

Common alchemilla leaf with its raindrop. Jörg Kaspari under CC license

More tolerant to the sun, the common alchemilla (Alchemilla mollis) or mantle of Notre-Dame, is ideally suited to undergrowth edges or shrubbery borders. It unfolds from June to August, myriads of small greenish-yellow flowers covering anise-green leaves, with finely serrated edges, which have the particularity to retain drops of rain or dew. The pink stingray (Lamium maculatum 'Roseum') also enjoys the semi-shadow. This creeping perennial with semi-evergreen foliage and rapid growth seduces as much by its leaves stained with silvery white as by its abundant flowering which intervenes from May to July and goes up a little later in season. We can also mention the grass with gouty variegated (Aegopodium podagraria 'Variegata') With luminous but deciduous foliage, which disappears in winter.

Very original, the black ophiopogon (Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens'), or snake beard, has long, persistent leaves with a strangely dark, almost black color. Not difficult for a penny, this vivacious, close cousin of lily of the valley, grass-like has the advantage of growing both in the sun and at the foot of tall trees.

3 to 10 plants per m2

Black Ophiopogon or snake beard.

Black Ophiopogon or snake beard. 222826249 / adfoto – stock.adobe.com

Among the heliophiles, the perennial geranium Rozanne 'Gerwat', which bears the name of the British gardener who selected it, is ideal for upholstering the borders of well exposed beds. His arguments? A beautiful and long blooming blue (from the end of May to the frosts), dense and spread foliage, and exceptional adaptability: this champion also accepts the semi-shade, is satisfied with all types of soil and supports extreme cold (down to -28 ° C). Note, in the same family, rhizomatous perennial geranium (Geranium macrorrhizum) with its fragrant and semi-evergreen foliage.

In the category of accomodating, campanulas of the walls (Campanula poscharskyana and C. portenschlagiana) with their flowers in lavender bells are particularly indicated for the rockeries or the edges of massive exposed sun in partial shade.

Finally to finish, the season in beauty, illuminate your undergrowth with the cyclamen of Naples (Cyclamen hederifolium) which forms rugs of rose and mauve of unequaled splendor.

In practical terms, count 3 to 10 plants per m2 depending on species and varieties. Ask your nurseryman at the time of purchase, and consider increasing the density if your soil is poor. You will understand: it is important the ground is quickly covered before the weeds occupy the place.

Your "garden" appointments to be (especially) not to be missed

• 5th, 6th and 7th of April: 5th Garden and Plant Festival, Tauzia Castle, Gradignan (Gironde).

• 6-7 April: 17th Mulhouse Plant Market, Mulhouse Zoological and Botanical Park (Haut-Rhin).

• 6-7 April: 4th days of plants & garden art, Château de la Chapelle, Crécy-la-Chapelle (Seine-et-Marne).

• 6-7 April: 9th Chick Festival, Beaumont Farm, Eu (Seine-Maritime)

Domaine de Saint-Jean-de-Beauregard

• April 7th: Plant fair and gourmet market, Larchant (Seine-et-Marne).

• Until April 12: Exhibition "Charles Lemaire and Édouard Maubert, a common passion for botany", Headquarters of the National Society of Horticulture of France (SNHF), Paris 7th.

• April 12th, 13th and 14th: Saint-Jean-de-Beauregard spring plant festival, special "35th anniversary", Château de Saint-Jean-de-Beauregard (Essonne).

• April 12th, 13th and 14th: 15th edition of the "Jardins en Seine" show, terrace of Fécheray-Mont Valérien, Suresnes (Hauts-de-Seine).

• 20th, 21st and 22nd of April: 25th "Feast of Plants and Hens", on the theme "Maintain an Orchard and Vegetable Garden", Château de la Bourdaisière, Montlouis-sur-Loire (Indre-et-Loire).

• 20th, 21st and 22nd of April: 2nd plant days "Garden Art in Flanders", Château d'Esquelbecq (Nord).

• Until April 21st: 7th edition of the operation "My Street in Bloom", organized by the city of Nantes (Loire-Atlantique).

• April 22: Skyscraper plant market, avenue Henri-Barbusse, Villeurbanne (Rhône).

• Until April 28: "Dreams of the Mediterranean", 2nd edition of the Côte d'Azur Gardens Festival, with ephemeral landscape creations at different sites in the Alpes-Maritimes.

• Until September 8: Exhibition "Gardens, Joys of Val d'Oise", House of Dr. Gachet, Auvers-sur-Oise (Val d'Oise).

• Until May 28: Take part in the contest "Garden differently, share your practices" by registering here.

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