Henbit is a weed. So?

I first saw Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule) Henbit at Powell Garden 20150406_134746on a visit to Powell Gardens.  I thought it was gorgeous.  I still think so.  Then I started to see it everywhere, in every field.  It is a  self-sowing annual, and in farm fields I’m sure it is regarded as quite pernicious—though since it appears year after year, I suspect nobody has any idea how to eradicate it.

And I realize that I don’t really want to eradicate it.

There are areas in my garden which are still in planning stages.  I’m slowly improving the soil, adding compost, helping to make beds that my designed plants will succeed in.

And every year I get a bumper crop of Henbit.  And I try to kill it.  And I fail, just like everybody else.

So I took another look…and I have now decided to incorporate it into the plans.  I will seed with mini-clover, and those beds will—until I get them properly planted—look tended rather than weedy.  And the clover will improve the soil as well.  I will remove all the other weeds, but the henbit?  Why?

I still think it is gorgeous.  I may even make a stake labelling it!  So there!

The Battle vs. the War

The weeds are winning the battle – but I think not the war.

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You’ll notice there is a huge difference between the areas where we successfully sowed grass seed – both last fall and this spring – compared to the areas nearest the house which is still mostly bare ground.

The weeds are doing very well in those close-in battlegrounds.  But where there is good, strong grass growth the weeds are fewer.  They’re definitely not gone – and probably never will be, but weakened.  I’ve been mowing , with the mower set as high as it will go:  4”.  The weeds get their heads cut off which weakens them, but the grass I’ve sowed is barely touched.   And not having the taller weeds shading them out means the grasses I want can grow better,  keeping the weeds even fewer.

This is all a huge learning curve for me.  It is so gratifying to see things working the way they are supposed to.