Bumper harvest on the bindweed farm

March 31st, 2017 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Bindweed roots

I’ve been making a new trial garden where I can assess new plant introductions. It’s in an area that’s not been gardened much so needs thorough preparation and dealing with the bindweed is the first priority.

Years ago, to keep down the weeds I’d used landscape fabric between shrubs and then added a bark mulch. It looked pretty good and worked well until I was away too much to pay it proper attention. The bindweed arrived under the fence from the garden next door, snaked its way along under the fabric, popped up here and there through the overlaps and then romped up the potentillas and other shrubs.

The heap of roots in the picture was the result of about an hour’s work carefully digging it out. The longest piece I extracted was about 70cm long, and one piece had slid through the hole in the centre of an old clay pipe stem. If only we could eat it!

If I’d been around to spray each emerging shoot with weed killer when it first peeped through I wouldn’t have this problem now.

Some gardeners grow other bindweed species as ornamentals. Pink flowered Convolvulus altheoides, with its pretty dissected silver foliage is lovely – but almost as much as a thug. There’s even a double flowered bindweed called Calystegia hederacea ‘Flore Pleno’. Thankfully, this turns out to be rather a feeble plant and the double pink flowers are rather messy and sparse. Not worth growing.

The only one that really is good, and that you can depend on not to spread, is the hardy annual form – Convolvulus tricolor ‘Flagship Mixed’. Bright colours, pretty patterns, low and well-behaved – and it’s an annual so its roots are never a problem.

 

Convolvulus 'Flagship Mixed'

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Is one of our best known gardening writers. A graduate of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Graham was previously Gardening Correspondent of The Observer.
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