Like Donald Trump, stinging nettles are a bearable pain
TO think that we thought Megan and Harry made a beautiful couple! But their nuptials are as nothing compared to the current Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump bromance! The Love between these two gentle souls has not only lowered the simmering tension on the Korean peninsula, it has also warmed hearts and inspired me to end a phoney war of my own – the one in my garden.
I’ve been battling the weeds that grow in the corner of my garden for over a decade, and every summer after I’ve dug up the grass and nettles they grow back to be as big as they were before. This has made me realise that perhaps it’s time to bury the hatchet or, rather, hide the hoe and not bother again.
Don’t get me wrong, I still won’t tolerate weeds that smother plants or spread like ground elder and bindweed. But easy-to-fork dandelions and daisies loved by bees will always have room in my lawn. Besides, my nettles mind their own business, and feeling as though I must do something about them turns the pleasurable pastime of pottering into a tyranny of jobs. Turning the other cheek means I now look at them with pride, especially as they’re so good for wildlife.
More than any flower, stingers have the potential to help beleaguered butterflies; the leaves are the favoured food for caterpillars of five British species (see panel above). Having a garden full of nectar plants attracts the egg-laying adults, but the presence of nettles means they’ll lay their eggs – although for this to work, they must be in sun and shelter, as butterflies avoid shade and get blown next door on windy sites.
It was seeing butterflies thriving on nettles growing on what was once a close-mown council verge that changed my attitude. It looked untidy at first, but I now appreciate the woolly look and the wildlife it attracts. Like cropped verges, scrubbing the doorstep or impressing the Joneses with a manicured lawn, perhaps fastidious weeding will become a thing of the past. Stranger things have happened – after all, Trump is president!
“More than any flower, stingers help butterflies”
Wild plants will bring pollinators to your garden Nettle leaves provide nourishment for the caterpillars of butterflies like the comma Tortoiseshell butterfly eggs on the underside of a nettle leaf