Do you know what you call tree seedlings that come up all over the garden?
Yes, they are weeds. But there are some gardeners who get all “funny” about pulling tree seedlings as weeds, especially if the ‘seedling’ gets big enough that it won’t pull out easily and it’s a nice tree like a redbud, Cercis canadensis.
They convince themselves that maybe where that tree seedling sprouted would be the perfect place for another tree. And wouldn’t it be fun to have a tree in the garden that grew right there from a tiny seed?
Or maybe they try to transplant those tree seedlings to someplace else in the garden, merely because Mother Nature has provided them with a free tree.
Either way, enough of that kind of thinking and pretty soon, it’s not a garden anymore. It’s a mess.
There are, of course, some tree seedlings, like mulberries and cottonwoods, that every gardener recognizes as weeds, no matter how big and tree-like those seedlings get.
I pull out a lot of mulberry and cottonwood seedlings in my garden. The seeds come a long way to get here because there are no mature trees nearby. But I still pull the seedlings out when I find them. I show no mercy. I don’t blink. I don’t hestitate.
The mulberry seeds, Morus sp., usually hitch a ride to my garden in the gut of a bird. The bird eats the mulberry seed, flies to my garden and then poos a few droppings with the seed still intact in them somewhere where I don’t want a mulberry tree to grow. Those droppings, by the way, stain whatever they land on purple. Then wherever that dropping landed, that freshly scarified mulberry seed sprouts and grows, taking root in even the tiniest bit of dirt.
Somehow, the mulberry leaves tend to blend in to their surroundings until the little tree seedling is a big tree seedling and I’ve got to get a shovel or pick axe to dig it out. When I’m feeling lazy, I sometimes just cut those mulberry tree weeds down to the ground, but they always re-sprout. Always. There are some that I cut down weekly throughout the summer.
The cottonwoods, Populus deltoides, are just as weedy as mulberries. Those seeds ride in on the wind from who knows where, wrapped up in their fluffy cotton-y covering, fall gently to the ground, and then germinate. I have no idea where the nearest cottonwood tree is, but I bet on any given day I can find a cottonwood tree seedling somewhere in my garden.
I’m in a battle with these tree seedlings and what’s at stake is the very survival of my garden as a garden and not a wild space. They want to take over, and I won’t let them. I pull the little ones, dig out those that won’t pull out easily, and keep cutting back those that thought they were going to make it.
It’s my garden, my design (such as it is) and I’m only going to let the trees grow where I plant them!
(Why am I writing about these tree-weeds now? I was reminded of them when I saw all the seed pods hanging from the redbud tree, which I included in my Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day post for this month. Thank you to everyone who posted about their blooms on the 15th. I’m still working my way down the Mr. Linky list to visit and see what everyone has, or doesn’t have, blooming. Eventually I hope to read all the bloom day posts!)