Senecio vulgaris, Groundsel showing seed head 9.1.2012. Photo by Tony Garn

Senecio vulgaris, Groundsel showing seed head 9.1.2012

Temperatures reaching double figures have been a daily occurrence this month and so too through December. Even the overnight minimum does not often drop below zero. Apart from this weekend which has been the coldest of the winter so far.

This has resulted in a covering through cultivated soil of seedlings that are continuing to grow. Unfortunately the culmination of this growth is flower and then seed heads. The attached image of Senecio vulgaris “Groundsel” as a mature plant, with seed at the dispersal stage, is typical of the weed flora observed in areas of bare soil.

There are benefits; the luxuriant leafy growth on Claytonia perfoliata, the “Winter Purslane” can be harvested to add a tangy taste to winter salads.

Care needs to be exercised when working through borders controlling the weed population. Emerging foliage of Eranthis hyemalis and that of spring bulbs is easily missed and a good tramping will not improve the bud development.

Do also be aware of interesting seedlings that could be lifted, potted and grow on. In the borders are examples of self seeded Thuja plicata, a western North American conifer with aromatic scent to the foliage when bruised. Seedlings of Ilex aquifolium where bird droppings have contained the seeds of Holly arealso frequently seen.

Thuja plicata seedlings. Photo by Tony Garn

Thuja plicata seedlings

Claytonia perfoliata, Winter Purslane. Photo by Tony Garn

Claytonia perfoliata, Winter Purslane

Eranthis hyemalis. Photo by Tony Garn

Eranthis hyemalis