We all hear about how communities come together in these increasingly difficult and unprecedented times. One of our neighbours organised a local support group through social media and the offers of help are coming through thick and fast.
Over the weekend one neighbour offered wild garlic plants as her own garden had become engulfed by it. As it happens one of the early Saturday morning programmes on Radio 4 was telling us all about wild garlic. What a coincidence! We put our hand up and later in the day we had a firm knock on the door and our garlic was delivered.
The thing is how do we plant it? Well the important thing to remember is the way the neighbour had described how it had taken over in her garden, or how prolific it looks in a woodland setting. As the RHS tells us "their persistent bulbs and spreading habit make them a problem in most gardens".
Oh yes - whilst they might smell pleasant and whilst we might be able to use the leaves in our cooking we need to take care when planting them. If we don't then our garden too will become enfulfed..........
We've planted ours in one of our two Belfast sinks. Here's one before planting up and then two with the garlic in it. You can see who well they've settled in. After a good drink they've perked up really well - that's called transpiration.
Those thick ceramic walls will contain the garlic nicely!
Wild garlic reproduces by seeds or bulbs. If you decide to grow it from a seed, the ideal time to plant it is between October and March, directly in it's final growing space. If we're growing wild garlic from a bulb then we'd normally plant it at the end of summer - August or September.
The thing is, and when plants are being offered, we have to adapt! We've planted ours now and as a wise old woman (my grandmother and the reason I'm now gardening) once said "they've got two chances my old son........".
We're going to put mint in the other sink - another gardening brute that we all love but if we don't look after it then it too will engulf our gardens. We were asked to clear some the other day from a raised bed. Look at how far the roots had spread and how new plants were taking over.
We've taken loads of cuttings from what otherwise would have been thrown away. We hope to have loads of plants later in the year to raffle through our Facebook page and raise funds for a local charity.
We've all heard of disputes over Leyland cypress and other plants that whilst once they might have looked attractive they eventually outgrew the garden. The thing is plants can easily take over if they aren't grown - or contained - in the right way. If we planted the garlic or mint straight into the ground then we know that sooner or later we'd have a garden of garlic or mint, and very little else.
Unless of course we'd also planted some of these or have them in our gardens:
Bamboo. A great plant that can grow in poor soils and give you a great screen. Also comes in a varity of different colours. Get a running bamboo rather than clump forming variety and if not contained or kept under control then you'll spend ages chopping it out and sieving the soil to find the smallest pieces of roots (as we did last year for a customer).
Bindweed. Ok so it's unlikely that you'd actually plant this, but you might often find it growing under a neighbour's fence and into your lovingly tended borders. The trumpet shaped flowers look quite attractive but beware. Once you've got it, it's difficult to manage or rid your garden of it.
Baby's tears. Or Mind your own business. Or - and here's the clue - Corsican Creeper. It might look nice and it might provide great ground cover but again unless kept in check it'll take over.
All are plants that we've been asked to manage and get under control - or eradicate - over the past few months. Sadly there are many other plants that need to be contained and managed carefully. If they aren't then they'll takeover!
So be careful what you plant and how you plant it!