Bouquets of dried flowers

Beautiful dried bouquets can be made with the faded flowers and stems of garden plants. Not everything is suitable, but with a little imagination a lot is useful. The spent panicles of the yarrow (Achillea millefolium) dry very well and then mix very well with the silver-shiny dollar plant (Lunaria biennis) and the bright red calyxes of Physalis (Physalis franchettii). The nice spikelets of the plantain (Plantago) contrast very nicely with the dried yellow flower heads of the tansy (Tanacetum vulgare).

The large faded screens of the hortensia (Hydrangea macrophylla) lends itself perfectly to beautiful, very large bouquets. Especially the pink flowering variety gives a very nice result when dried: the individual flowers that make up the umbels take on all shades from a deep pink to a soft brown. A large number of flower heads together gives a beautiful effect. Of course, one hortensia in the own garden too few umbels; prove the neighbors (if of course they have a hortensia and want to be released from their umbels) a service: cut the spent flowers from the Hydrangea there too and add them to your own bouquet.

Hydrangea flowerhead, photo: PlantEnPlagen

Flowers that are specially grown for dried bouquets must be picked for good results when they are just not open yet. After all, spent flowers fall out sooner. Pick the material to be dried in dry weather; this prevents rotting during the drying process. Wrap the flowers in small amounts in paper and hang them upside down in a dark place that is not too warm to dry. After six weeks, the flowers are suitable for the vase – no water of course.


Unwanted plant growth

Because that is ‘weed’: a plant that is in the wrong place. That says nothing about the properties or the usefulness of that plant. That ‘weed’ can be a sown lady’s mantle, a poppy, comfrey; all venerable plants, but the qualities of those plants are not desired in that place. In that sense, weeds are comparable to the English anthropologist Mary Douglas’ definition of ‘dirty’: ‘Dirt is matter out of place’: a hair in the soup is ‘matter out of place’. For example, weeds are ‘plants out of place’.

Weed control
Weeding is – no matter how tedious – the best way to get rid of unwanted plant growth. Weed when the soil is slightly damp; weeds in clay soil in particular can then be easily removed. Heavy soils dry up to a hard, impenetrable crust; plants with tap roots then break off instead of being pulled out of the ground. The wind scatters seeds of weeds; regular hoeing of germinating weeds prevents a lot of weeding. Weeds with taproots such as dandelion and milk thistle should be removed root and all. Hoeing does not help: dandelion and thistle sprout again from the cut root. Whoever mills the ground containing dandelions and thistles, chops the taproots of these weeds into countless pieces, which in turn produce countless dandelions and thistles. Leave the weeds in dry weather for a day, the weeds wither and can easily be raked together for the compost heap.

Anti-root cloth
Apply anti-root cloth approximately 5 centimeters below ground level to prevent weeds on tile and gravel paths. Anti-root cloth consists of woven black plastic and only allows water to pass through. It is light-tight and roots hardly get through. Almost not, because after some time, experience has shown that thistles still grow through the anti-root cloth and the gravel. Also useful, but very unsightly, is anti-root cloth under young shrub plantations, to keep the soil under the shrubs free of weeds. Even difficult weeds such as ground elder and Bermuda grass do not grow through anti-root cloth.

herkennen van onkruid, ongewenste planten
Onkruid tussen de sten

Weeds on paths and pavements can also be controlled with hot water. That pouring with hot water has to be repeated regularly and the weeds do not disappear completely, but it remains under control. The best time to water is late afternoon when the plants have the least water. The hot water heats up the above-ground plant parts, causes the plant to dry out and die if there is sufficient heat.

Moss, moss and more moss

Really, moss everywhere..

Between the tiles, in the grass, the fresh green cushions of moss can now be seen everywhere. The months of January, February and the very beginning of spring are the most important months of the year for mosses. Then it receives all the available light, which will be blocked by leafy shrubs for the rest of the year. There is also enough moisture to swell the fine cell structure of the mosses to burst.

Mosses multiply by means of spores, which are formed in urn-shaped boxes. These spore capsules are covered by pointed caps, the hoods, which fall off as soon as the spores are ripe. Such a minuscule spore of moss settles for the very least: the most shady and insignificant spot in the garden. Moss is not welcome everywhere – for example in the lawn.

Actually moss is quite beautiful! In addition to the mosses that develop in the form of pillows, there are also the beautiful lichens. These colorful placards cover weathered walls. The Grey-cushioned grimmia with its green offshoots, nesting between the stones of the rock garden, is also present in early spring.

Give moss a place in the shade garden, because it is already there anyway. Find a decayed tree stump and tie to it, for example, Pin cushion moss, Silky-wall Feather moss and Rough-stalked Feather moss. Place the tree stump with the mosses in a shady spot under a large shrub. In the summer you can no longer see the mosses because its hidden under the shrubs. But as soon as the leaves fall in the fall, the moss emerges in its delicate splendor. With a bit of luck, some mushrooms will also grow among the mosses over the years.

herkennen mos in gazon
Lawn and moss, photo: PlantEnPlagen

The moss in the grass is a different story. It can best be combated by spreading lime; after all, moss likes an acidic environment. Preferably three times a year, a substantial dose of lime: at the beginning of the growth periods of the grass in March and August and at the beginning of winter when the heavy rain acidifies the soil. Dead moss is easy to rake away. Scarifying also removes the moss, but also a lot more – so don’t do it. See also: Scarify, better not.

Scarify, better not

The days are getting longer, the grass is starting to grow again and so is the moss in the lawn. The lawn looks lifeless after winter; fresh green tufts of moss are emerging. Dead blades of grass are hidden between the green. Some gardeners start talking about scarifying, about the ‘felting’ of the lawn. Between the grasses accumulate a thin layer of death grasses – the so-called felt layer.
What to do? Scarify? Or fertilize and maybe sprinkle some lime against moss?
Scarifying – machining the lawn, where moss and death grasses are cut away – seems effective. Once raked together, there is a large pile of moss and dead grass. The lawn has been freed from the moss, bare spots have arisen here and there and the layer of felt has been removed. With the moss and the felt layer, the humus – degradable dead organic material – has also been removed. The amount of humus determines the fertility of the soil. Every year humus disappears from the soil due to active soil life. Soil without organic matter is desert soil, nothing can grow there. Farmers replenish the humus content each growing season; if they don’t, that impoverishes the soil.
The soil life, that underground army of earthworms, sow bugs, fungi and bacteria, live on dead organic matter and process this while eating into nutrients that can be absorbed by plants. Scarifying deprives the soil life of its source of nutrition and the soil life deteriorates as a result. In the absence of worms, the soil hardens and the water permeability decreases. When it rains, puddles form on the lawn. After scarifying, fertilizing with an organic fertilizer (granules of cow and horse manure) is necessary. Reseeding the resulting bare spots is also necessary, otherwise the empty space will be taken up by pioneer plants such as ryegrass, bindweed, speedwell, clover and creeping buttercup.

Soil life
Let the soil life do its job instead of scarifying. Give the worms, sow bugs and centipedes food in the form of organic fertilizer and compost. The soil life springs up after the winter break, multiplies very quickly and breaks down the dead plant material, the felt layer. Earthworms scarify the lawn and prevent the soil from compacting, so that rainwater and air penetrate deep into the soil. the grass will take root more deeply and will then be more drought resistant. Is the soil on the sour side (< 6 pH , such as peat soil for example) which allows moss to form easily, then sprinkle lime granules in March and June. Rake away any large tufts of moss and sow bare spots.

Iron sulfate
Iron sulphate is sometimes used to kill moss: a fertilizer that also kills moss. However, iron sulphate is also deadly for soil life, so do not use it. Also because iron sulphate is unsafe stuff. It leaves rust stains on stones and floors and accidentally inhaling it is downright unhealthy. Keep pets (dogs and rabbits) away from ferrous sulfate treated lawns.

Moss formation is prevented by mowing not too short (< 4 cm), ensure good drainage and regularly sprinkle lime granules in the spring. Keeping the lawn slightly high will reduce the light of moss and slow down growth. In general, 5 cm is the best cutting height in the summer, which prevents burns and rapid dehydration during heat. In winter, grass can withstand snow and ice and then 6 cm is a good cutting height. A last mowing takes place in November, after which the grass grows after all, hardly any more.

Admittedly, such a natural lawn will look a little less tight than a fertilizer-sprinkled, scarified, super-green lawn. Fertilizer is the fast food among fertilizers: the grass ‘explodes’, but since fertilizer contains no organic matter, it does nothing for the soil; spreading fertilizer is short-term work. The soil is impoverished and an excess of fertilizer is leaked into the surface water. The result is a suffocating algae growth.

Blackbird with earthworm, photo: Look Sharp! - CC BY-SA 3.0

A healthy, living lawn
A non-scarified lawn has worm mounds and a thin layer of humus between the grass blades. In this layer live the worms, the sow buds and the centipedes. Blackbirds and thrushes come to look for earthworms on such a healthy, living lawn. Or a  visiting seagull that seems to dance. In reality, the gull kicks on the ground, creating vibrations so that worms and insects come to the surface (ha, rain!) after which they are picked up by the gull. This is how a seagull dances its meal together.