It’s Good, It’s Bad, But It’s Never Ugly

We all know that a weed is often just a vigorous plant in the wrong place. It has shown up in a place where we think something else should be. As a gardener, I am pretty tolerant. I allow dandelions in the lawn – I think they’re cheerful – and I ignore some other classic weeds like Creeping Charlie, too. I love buttercups for the same reason I like dandelions: they are bright yellow, and a sure sign that summer is on the way.

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Recently I started a war on buttercups. Okay, not a full-fledged war. A battle. This is the time of year when my Japanese or candelabra primroses (Primula japonica) are in bloom, and they have been overwhelmed, in places by big bold buttercups. For the last 2 years buttercups have been lurking around the primrose garden, and then this year … Kaboom! They moved in and are smothering smaller primroses. It was time to remove them.

The war has begun!

Using my CobraHead weeder I find I can root them out quite easily. The soil is moist and rich, and they have 2 to 3-inch fibrous roots that hold on quite tenaciously. But they are no match for me and a CobraHead.

Buttercup roots

I found I can remove just over 100 buttercups in a 15 minute time slot. And that’s what I do. Rather than work at it for an hour at a time, I use a free quarter hour time slot to pull some. That way, I don’t get discouraged.

What's not to like? They can be aggressive

But to the virtues of buttercups, I remember as a small boy my older sister, Ruth Anne, would test to see if I liked butter. She’d hold one under my chin, and ask me if I liked butter. If my chin showed the reflected yellow, I did! And elsewhere, along my stream, I let them run rampant. They are good there.  

Buttercups by my stream

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