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bindweed v. 'wen'

The Secret Life of Bindweed

Friday 27th July 2001, West Yorkshire

field bindweed'MOST EXTRAORDINARY,' enthuse Tompkins and Bird in the Secret Life of Plants (1973), 'it now appears that plants may be able to cooperate with humanity in the Herculean job of turning this planet back into a garden from the squalor and corruption of what England's pioneer ecologist William Cobbett would have called a "wen".'

If I left our front garden to the plants it would soon be festooned with Field Bindweed, Convolvulus arvensis, and, at this time of year, its twisting vines would be dotted with its attractive pink-and-white trumpets.

bindweed emerging It has been pushing up for years in the crumbling, patched up tarmac of the pavement in front of the house. Last year the local council re-laid the pavement, scraping away the old blackstuff to a depth of several inches and spreading a new hot, sticky layer over it. An extreme form of mulching. This year it's back again.

coming up at the edge of the landscape fabric Our landscape fabric mulch on the front bed, which is now planted with heathers and a couple of miniature conifers, has had some success in keeping it down, but it still finds a way up around the edges of the fleece and keeps popping up at the side of the spreading conifer.

spreading in all directionsSo will we ever eradicate it? In his Photographic Guide to Wild Flowers of Roadsides and Waste Places, Roger Phillips gives the following facts;

It is also a terribly persistent garden weed, putting down very deep roots which can grow up easily from a depth of over 50 cm (and have been found to a depth of 7 metres) and are resistant to most weedkillers. It spreads by seeds and by broken pieces of root, and one plant can cover as much as 30 square metres in a single season.

Thank you for that, page

Richard Bell
Richard Bell,
wildlife illustrator

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