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I’ve done four consultations in the past month for people who hate to throw a plant away. When anything has seeded that they recognize, they have either let the plant stay in that location or transplanted it elsewhere on the property. Some have divided perennials such as Siberian iris and Shasta daisies and have put every division back into the ground. All of four of the homeowners had hired me because things had gotten too crowded.

In the woods and fields, I explained to them all, natural selection determines what grows and what stays. One plant overwhelms another or takes most of the available light, water or nutrients away from neighbors. Many plants find their way to coexist, however, which is why wild areas can be difficult to walk through. In extremely lush growing conditions people need machetes at hand in order to walk through the tangle.

In other words, nature loves a jungle. If we homeowners and gardeners want anything else we need to be willing to get rid of excess plants. The often-repeated wisdom is that a weed is any plant that’s in the wrong spot. This is absolutely true…and most self-seeded plants do not sprout and grow in the correct place.

For some spreading or self-seeding plants the right place is in the compost pile. Word.

Many things want to take root in our lives but that doesn’t mean we need to allow them to do so. In the garden and in life we need to learn to be good and willing editors.

This is how part of my rain garden looked at 9 AM this morning. There were far too many self-seeded Verbascum chaixii plants and these were both hiding the weeds and overtaking the Lobelia cardinalis that I planted this spring. There was also a population of Japanese Anenome that had seeded here, and a native Rubus creeping in from edges. Time for editing!

A bit less than an hour later, order is restored. And no, I did not transplant those Anenomes and Verbascum elsewhere.

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