June 17, 2024


Taste the Home & Environment

Gardening advice: Cool temperatures curbed pesky weed

Last year saw a week-long heat wave in mid-May, followed by a long, dry period until significant rains began in mid-October. Let’s hope for less difficult growing conditions this year.

So many comments from gardening friends and column readers about the cool April weather delaying planting led me to look over my weather records for last year, when April temperatures were roughly similar to this year except for warming at the end of the month. Then a week-long heat wave began at mid-May, followed by a long, dry period until significant rains began in mid-October. Let’s hope for less difficult growing conditions this year.

Sunny side. As I ambled through the garden one day last month, a bucket for weeds in hand, I found myself humming “Always look on the bright side of life” from the Monty Python film Life of Brian.

Why? Miraculously, or more likely because of cool temperatures and damp soil, most of the nasty and ubiquitous hairy bittercress weeds in the garden had grown larger and leafier than usual, with delayed flowering and seed ripening.

The little plant rosettes usually appear early in the year and, especially in poor, dry soil, flower and form seeds quickly. This year was oddly different — a sunny side of weeding.

Hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) is often called popweed, shotweed, snapweed and flickweed for its habit of dispersing multitudes of mature seeds from spring-like pods.

Mothering. I’ve had snake plants (Sansevieria) in my home for many years, and while readers of this column, including my friend Sallie, have sent me photos of their plants in bloom, mine have remained barren — until a few weeks ago.

Because these popular succulent plants require so little care, I don’t check on them often, but as I was seeing to the needs of other plants at the living room window I noticed something different about one of the snake plants.

It had produced a wee flower stem. I’d joined the club of flowering snake plant owners. My plant was in mothering mode.

Sansevieria plants have long been considered a “must” in house plant collections. They are as close to indestructible as plants get. They need little watering and do fine in poor light. Snake plant is one of the best for improving indoor air quality and for that reason is sometimes referred to as “bedroom plant.”

Another common name is mother-in-law’s tongue, perhaps because the leaves are long, or because they are toxic if ingested.

The name erroneously presumes that mothers-in-law either talk too much or have “tongues” (speech) that are toxic. May that never be the case in your homes as I wish you all a happy celebration of motherhood this weekend.


Peninsula meeting. The Peninsula Garden Club will meet on Monday, May 13, at 7 p.m. in the Mary Winspear Centre in Sidney. Claudia Copley, entomology collections manager and researcher at the Royal B.C. Museum, will share her knowledge on Garden “Bugs” – The Good, the Bad and the Merely Ugly. Claudia will help gardeners to recognize which insects are pests and which are beneficial. She will recommend control methods for pests and ways to encourage beneficials. Guests welcome. Drop-in fee $5.

Qualicum meeting. The Qualicum Beach Garden Club will meet on Tuesday, May 14, at 7:30 p.m. in the QB Civic Centre, 747 Jones St. Jason Crouch, co-owner of Fraser Valley Rose Farm, will delve into Growing Great Roses — tips for helping roses thrive easily. Guest drop-in fee $3.

Tomato Day. The Horticulture Centre of the Pacific, 505 Quayle Rd., is hosting its annual Tomato Day sale of transplants for tomatoes, other vegetables and herbs on Saturday, May 18, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. New this year is a 10 a.m. Master Gardener presentation on growing tomatoes.

Plant sale. There will be a Garden Babies for Birthright plant sale at St Elizabeth’s Church in Sidney (10030 3rd Ave) on Saturday, May 18, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Perennials, flowering shrubs, large selection of heirloom tomato plants.

Plantaholics sale. Interesting and unusual plants from local propagators will be sold at Robin Denning’s Brentwood Bay Nursery, 1395 Benvenuto Ave. on Saturday, May 25, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Information at [email protected].

Introduction to new plants. The Horticulture Centre of the Pacific’s next workshop in the monthly series Plant Identification and Culture with Jane Tice will be on Saturday, May 25, 1 to 4 p.m. Each session introduces 20 new plants that fit in with our local climate. Cost for HCP members $40 per session. Others $50. To register, call 250-479-6162 or at hcp.ca/events.

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