Ask a Question forum: 2 questions: Weed with purple petals, what is it? How to get rid of Holly?

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Name: Greg
Lake Forest Park, Washington (Zone 8b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Brinybay
May 31, 2015 10:42 PM CST
First some background. I'm a beginner gardener and took on a project of developing a side of our property that's been long neglected. It's about 20ft by 45 ft. The short side is bordered on one side by our house, and 20ft out is a treeline consisting of a willow at each end, 2 pines and a hemlock. Immediately after the tree line is a creek, then a street.

I just finished clearing out decades worth of pine needles, willow leaves, weeds and other tree debris and started planting. I haven't planted much yet, the ground is very rooty, but what I have planted seems to be doing ok, e.g. a month or so ago I planted a Japanese Golden Forest Grass plant and kept an eye on it, it seems to be doing ok. Other plants are an Autumn Fern, and Upside Down Fern, and a Sweetbox. My intent is to make this a woodland garden.

Question #1 is regarding a weed with 5 purple petals that is invasive, but fortunately seems to have shallow roots so it's easy to pull out and therefore relatively easy to control. It has a "weedy" smell to it when it's disturbed. I'm just curious as to what it is, because it's actually not bad looking (for a weed), but I don't want it around.

Question #2 is how to get rid of probably hundreds of small holly plants. It's both addicting and at the same time discouraging (more the latter) to try to pull them all out by hand. I've probably pulled about a couple hundred already, but there's many more to go. I don't want to use chemicals because it's next to a creek and the powers that be (Lake Forest Park, WA) frown on that, and I do too. I want to put in Alpine Creeper as a ground cover and am wondering if that would be a mistake, or should I just go ahead and plant them and deal with the holly plants as they crop up (but they can be hard to pull out, even the small ones).



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"Love the people who treat you right and forget the ones who don't." - Chiune Sugihara
[Last edited by Brinybay - Jun 1, 2015 10:12 AM (+)]
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Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
May 31, 2015 11:04 PM CST
Welcome!

First question: I'm 99% sure it's a Geranium robertianum otherwise known as Herb Robert, class B weed. Really pretty but yep, it's a bit aggressive. Another common name for this plant is 'Stinky Bob'.

The plant is in our ATP database.
Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum)

Second question: Get rid of the Holly tree first or you will be pulling seedlings for the rest of you natural life. Rolling on the floor laughing
Sorry, about that. Since you are so close to the water, hand pulling is the best. Put yourself into a Zen mode, get comfortable and just do it. You could use plastic to 'solarize' (if that's the correct word?) and kill the seedlings if you have time.

Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
[Last edited by greene - May 31, 2015 11:18 PM (+)]
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Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
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zuzu
Jun 1, 2015 12:21 AM CST

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The weed is a wild geranium, but I'm not sure it's G. robertianum. I have the one in your photos and G. robertianum, and the G. robertianum is larger and has larger blooms.

As for the holly seedlings, I think you should wait and see whether they're actually going to grow. I get millions of them from a neighbor's tree, but I'm a procrastinator and most of them are usually gone by the time I get around to removing them.
Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Jun 1, 2015 7:53 AM CST
Hi & welcome!

IDK the identity of your mystery plants, but wanted to point out that a garden needs a lot of organic matter, from fallen leaves, pine needles, that kind of thing - natural compost. Maintaining a constant layer of that material keeps the ground from drying, and keeps the microscopic (and larger) soil-dwellers alive and able to do their job of performing the decomposition process and moving microscopic materials to a level (and in a form) that roots can use.
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Name: Greg
Lake Forest Park, Washington (Zone 8b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Brinybay
Jun 1, 2015 8:47 AM CST
greene said: Welcome!

...Get rid of the Holly tree first or you will be pulling seedlings for the rest of you natural life. Rolling on the floor laughing
Sorry, about that. Since you are so close to the water, hand pulling is the best. Put yourself into a Zen mode, get comfortable and just do it. You could use plastic to 'solarize' (if that's the correct word?) and kill the seedlings if you have time.



Tell me more about "solarizing". I'm guessing it involves spreading a clear plastic tarp over the area in question?

P.S. Can I borrow Jack? I have some work for him! I feed and water well and appreciate greatly!
"Love the people who treat you right and forget the ones who don't." - Chiune Sugihara
[Last edited by Brinybay - Jun 1, 2015 9:08 AM (+)]
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Name: Greg
Lake Forest Park, Washington (Zone 8b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Brinybay
Jun 1, 2015 9:21 AM CST
purpleinopp said:Hi & welcome!

IDK the identity of your mystery plants, but wanted to point out that a garden needs a lot of organic matter, from fallen leaves, pine needles, that kind of thing - natural compost. Maintaining a constant layer of that material keeps the ground from drying, and keeps the microscopic (and larger) soil-dwellers alive and able to do their job of performing the decomposition process and moving microscopic materials to a level (and in a form) that roots can use.


Not to worry, there's more where those came from. I'm trying to develope the area to work in harmony with a nearly constant rain of willow leaves and pine needles, it would be silly to try to fight them. But the way it was before was mostly unusable. A large part of it (between the tree line and the house) was already dried out and mostly bare. I'm open to suggestions. Here's a pic of it as it is now. My goal is to turn this into a "green oasis"/woodland garden/healing garden, a place to de-stress. I want it to look natural and put plantings directly into the ground, but in some places that's not practical because of smaller rockery rocks that are just under the surface next to the rockery, so I may use a few containers. The far end I've left wild to serve as a habitat because we've seen racoons using it as a sheltered conduit to get to and from the creek.

The planting method I use that I gathered from talking to more experienced gardeners at nurseries is to dig a hole 2-3 times the size of the root ball, mix 1/2 native soil with 1/2 compost and maybe a bit of general purpose fertilizer, then plant and water it daily, usually in the early evening.


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"Love the people who treat you right and forget the ones who don't." - Chiune Sugihara
[Last edited by Brinybay - Jun 1, 2015 10:16 AM (+)]
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Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Jun 1, 2015 12:04 PM CST
Brinybay said:

P.S. Can I borrow Jack? I have some work for him! I feed and water well and appreciate greatly!


That is so funny!! Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing If you did not live clear across the continent I would gladly let you borrow Jack. He is good a digging and especially good at pulling roots.

Yes, you have the correct idea for 'solarizing'. All you need is plastic and some hot sun.. and I guess a few rocks or bricks to hold the plastic in place. Some more experienced folks can explain it in more detail. I like to use Google Images, put in the key words 'solarizing weeds' and get ideas to see how it was done by many different people.

Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Deb
Pacific Northwest (Zone 8b)
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Bonehead
Jun 1, 2015 12:08 PM CST
Welcome Briny. I am about half hour north of you. I have both of your weeds. I pretty much let the herb Robert ( or whatever it is) be, it hasn't become a big problem and is easy to pull. It is a non-native invasive for us. I find lots of holly volunteers in the understory of a mature fir and cedar stand between me and my neighbor and selectively let some stay to provide additional screening. You may also find volunteer laurel, another non-native planted by birds. I selecively allow some again for screening. Even if you don't have either of these growing nearby you will likely get them. I don't stress about trying for total eradication. The birds will just keep replanting.

In your understory I would suggest introducing native ferns, false lily of the valley, mahonia, vine maple. Sword ferns will do real well and colonize. Also deer fern, smaller. For a big statement, darmera is also native and does well. Goatsbeard (native form or one of the prettier cultivars). Rodgersia ( not native but will grow in shade). At the edges you could add a Japanese maple or two and some dogwood shrubs. And of course azalea or rhodies would fit right in.

I also encourage some shrub piles here and there for critter protection. Makes routine cleanup easy to just toss branches and debris in a pile.

Fun project ahead of you!
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Hetty
Sunny Naples, Florida (Zone 10a)
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Dutchlady1
Jun 1, 2015 12:12 PM CST
Briny you might want to incorporate a small area of hardscape, even if it is just a small area with some flagstones underneath to put a bench. It will give you a focal point. I think it will be a beautifully serene spot when you're done.
Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Jun 1, 2015 12:16 PM CST
That's lovely! I'd enjoy that spot too.

Native plants (and other non-invasive, garden-worthy ornamentals) shouldn't need any amendment to the planting hole or fertilizers. Rocks in the soil won't bother plants a bit, and help hold the hill together, but bigger ones, and bigger tree roots can often prevent digging in particular spots. Moving over a few inches is often necessary. It's much easier to dig a smaller hole for a smaller plant, but that does require more patience to wait longer for the plants to get bigger.

Leaving the debris on the ground doesn't mean that you wouldn't pull whatever unwanted sprouts come up (and should keep the ground softer, making the sprouts easier to pull.) You've already made the connection between bare ground and dry ground. Leaves are wonderful, free mulch, nature's plan for the forest. That bag looks like the start of a nice compost pile.

Avoiding any kinds of rows is the #1 rule when going for a natural looking planting. What a wonderful spot to continue what nature has started!
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Name: Greg
Lake Forest Park, Washington (Zone 8b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Brinybay
Jun 1, 2015 4:00 PM CST
Dutchlady1 said:Briny you might want to incorporate a small area of hardscape, even if it is just a small area with some flagstones underneath to put a bench. It will give you a focal point. I think it will be a beautifully serene spot when you're done.


Got that down already. I found this cement bench at an estate sale for $40. My wife picked the spot where it sits, this will be the focal point. Very nice to sit there next to the stream with a cup of coffee in the morning! There's also plans for a pathway and a semi-artificial stream bed where the sump pump and a downspout empty out. Right now it's only a small ditch I dug so the water would empty into the stream instead of pooling on the ground (you can see it in the picture of the wild corner). During the rainy season, that's a lot of water being pumped out.

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"Love the people who treat you right and forget the ones who don't." - Chiune Sugihara
[Last edited by Brinybay - Jun 1, 2015 4:36 PM (+)]
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Name: Greg
Lake Forest Park, Washington (Zone 8b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Brinybay
Jun 1, 2015 4:29 PM CST
Bonehead said:Welcome Briny. I am about half hour north of you. I have both of your weeds. ... I don't stress about trying for total eradication. The birds will just keep replanting.

In your understory I would suggest introducing native ferns, false lily of the valley, mahonia, vine maple. Sword ferns will do real well and colonize. Also deer fern, smaller. For a big statement, darmera is also native and does well. Goatsbeard (native form or one of the prettier cultivars). Rodgersia ( not native but will grow in shade). At the edges you could add a Japanese maple or two and some dogwood shrubs. And of course azalea or rhodies would fit right in.

I also encourage some shrub piles here and there for critter protection. Makes routine cleanup easy to just toss branches and debris in a pile.

Fun project ahead of you!


I'm glad you said not to stress too much about total eradication of the holly sprouts, I wasn't looking forward to that task.

Speaking of sword ferns, can they be transplanted from the wild? I ask because my neighbor said I could have the wild ferns growing on his property, but I don't know if they would survive.

As far as screening goes, we're a little careful about putting up too much screening. My wife used to have some bushes growing next to the house on that side that were high enough to conceal burglars who used them to hide their activity. The bushes are long gone. Some screening next to the rockery to help cut the traffic noise down would be nice, but once the morning and evening commuters are gone, it's not real bad.
"Love the people who treat you right and forget the ones who don't." - Chiune Sugihara
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
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RickCorey
Jun 1, 2015 6:03 PM CST
Hi, Greg! Welcome to ATP. I live around 5-8 miles north of you, right between Everett and Lynnwood - on 99.

Good luck getting that area pretty! I have one big holly that some bird donated. It's pretty now, but will eventually make a little walkway un-walk-able. Big thorns on those leaves!

If you want some lavatera or Fargesia rufa bamboo, you could dig some of mine.
Name: Deb
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Bonehead
Jun 1, 2015 6:55 PM CST
I have had excellent luck moving both sword and deer fern. Water them in well is about all you need to do. They thrive under conifers.
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Name: Greg
Lake Forest Park, Washington (Zone 8b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Brinybay
Jun 1, 2015 10:18 PM CST
RickCorey said:Hi, Greg! Welcome to ATP. I live around 5-8 miles north of you, right between Everett and Lynnwood - on 99.

If you want some lavatera or Fargesia rufa bamboo, you could dig some of mine.


You mean these things? Thanks, but we have plenty! Smiling

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Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Jun 1, 2015 10:32 PM CST
There is some good information from King County about all types of weeds. I realize that not everyone agrees with my guess that it is Herb Robert I tip my hat to you. , but I will use that 'weed' as an example of information that is available to you locally. There is contact information if you need a positive ID of your particular plants/weeds.

http://www.kingcounty.gov/environment/animalsAndPlants/noxio...

http://your.kingcounty.gov/dnrp/library/water-and-land/weeds...
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Greg
Lake Forest Park, Washington (Zone 8b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Brinybay
Jun 1, 2015 11:45 PM CST
[quote="greene"]There is some good information from King County about all types of weeds. I realize that not everyone agrees with my guess that it is Herb Robert I tip my hat to you. , but I will use that 'weed' as an example of information that is available to you locally. There is contact information if you need a positive ID of your particular plants/weeds.

http://www.kingcounty.gov/environment/animalsAndPlants/noxio...

]http://your.kingcounty.gov/dnrp/library/water-and-land/weeds...

Yes, that is good info, I downloaded the King County fact sheet. I would have to agree with you and King County, the description fits it exactly. However, Wikipedia says it has some benefits, such as mosquito repellent: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geranium_robertianum

"Love the people who treat you right and forget the ones who don't." - Chiune Sugihara
Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Jun 1, 2015 11:56 PM CST
It repels deer as well. Thumbs up
Herb Robert is a plant that I allow to grow in my yard in a controlled area. Not everyone loves the plant but I think it is very pretty. Each gardener must decide which items are 'plants' and which are 'weeds' unless there are laws that make that decision for us. I know you'll do a great job on that space.
Look forward to seeing photos as you progress. Thumbs up I like the bench; that was a great find!
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
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zuzu
Jun 2, 2015 12:37 AM CST

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greene said:I realize that not everyone agrees with my guess that it is Herb Robert


I think I was the ony one who disagreed with you, greene, and I have to apologize for that. You're right that this is Herb Robert. I have this one and another annual weedy geranium that's about 24-30 inches tall, and I identified the wrong one as G. robertianum. My taller one is a mystery I'll have to solve at another time.
Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
Rabbit Keeper Critters Allowed Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages
Herbs Region: Georgia Region: United States of America Native Plants and Wildflowers Dog Lover Composter
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greene
Jun 2, 2015 8:43 AM CST
Thank You! zuzu.
Some of my 'SmartPhone friends in Savannah also doubted that it was Herb Robert. We keep a little challenge going here over coffee in the morning. Actually, they thought I was making up the name, especially when I called it 'Stinky Bob'. They were sure I was faking. :rofl:
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"

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