Saturday, May 10, 2014

Creeping Charlie: Garden nemesis, or abundant herb?

Creeepiiiing Chaaarrrlliiieee....

Say these words with a growly tone of frustration, while pulling your hair out, and add a few choice expletives, and you'll espouse the tone needed when dealing with this evilly invasive weed. It not only takes over your lawn (which is actually alright with me), but your garden too (not okay).

All the while posing as a cutesy little ground cover with precious purple flowers.

Creeping Charlie flowers and purplish new scalloped leaves emerging in spring.

Sure, this plant would look lovely in a hanging basket, but without being contained, it will TAKE OVER your garden areas.

According to THIS site, it's also commonly known as Ground ivy, with a scientific name of Glechoma hederacea. I call it the bane of my gardening existence.

Since it's early May in Maine, my garden is still pretty barren, aside from some Chives, and some perennial weeds like Dandelion, and- you guessed it- Creeping Charlie. It takes full advantage of any opportunity to invade an area, and on MY lawn, it can be found just about anywhere. Sun, shade, grass, gardens... It knows no bounds.

It's a member of the mint family. Now you get it, right? INVASIVE. It's success is due in part to prostrate, creeping stems which sneak into forbidden areas, and take root at every node. Then, there are the underground rhizomes, which ensure that your futile attempts at hand weeding will fail. And it's final defense- those cute, purple flowers, which will give way to seeds to further promote the plant's survival. Next thing you know, it's EVERYWHERE!

And popping up into your garden at the first sign of spring. Also, mockingly surrounding the edges, just waiting for any opportunity to creep in. Ten foot high raised beds, anyone?

The kids and I did everything we could last summer, to tame this insidious beast. Yes, you may just have to resort to child labor. As we ripped it out of the ground, tossing it into it's own special pile (wouldn't want it to take root in the compost), we exclaimed, "Take THAT Creeping Charlie!" "Never show your leaves around here again!"

It didn't work.

This year, I plan on taking on a new, Zen-like, less controlling, more hippy-ish school of thought about this prolific plant. Will I allow it to take over the garden? Not if I can help it. But I may just think of my weed pulling efforts as more of a harvest, and give the plant the respect that it deserves.

Will my chickens, goats, or rabbits eat it? Will I eat it? Creeping Charlie tea, perhaps?

I think it's worth a try. I vow to research the heck out of this plant. Many sources tout the health benefits of this herb, due to it's high vitamin C content. I'll get back to you with my review.

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