War on Cleavers

We’ve spent a few days in Wales and not surprisingly for this time of year, a few weeds are attempting to take hold in the garden. One of these, Galium aparine, more commonly known as ‘cleaver’, ‘sticky bud’ or ‘goosegrass’, really irritates me because it insinuates itself through it’s neighbours in a stealth like manner. This evening, I was wandering through the garden and suddenly, whilst admiring a lovely hardy geranium flourishing beneath a healthy wiegela, I caught sight of this horrid weed in its attempt to take over.

I do remember finding this plant amusing as a child – its stickiness was fun when playing in the garden, but today, even though it has alleged benefits – high in vitamin C, can be infused to make a tea and has diuretic properties (the latter rings alarm bells with me!), I find it a destructive invader that has to be controlled. I say controlled because although I’m waging war on it, I am realistic enough to know that in a country garden, eradication is impossible.

The best way to try and control this weed is to hoe it at its earliest stage in March – and according to the RHS, to stop germination a mulch of at least 3 inches is required. Practically for us, we just have to pull it out as soon as we see it – but most importantly, before it flowers and sets its sticky seeds!

Cleavers sneaking their way through these young shasta daisies

And so, once you’re on the lookout for something, I’m sure you’ll agree – it can be found all over the garden – I have spent over an hour pulling cleavers out this evening (I haven’t developed an obsession, just teetering on the edge). This bundle looks so innocuous, but I can assure you that this is a significant haul – believe it or not, there are so many individual plants here but they stick and bind to each other in a most peculiar way!

So I’ve declared war on the cleavers in our Wales garden today – I think I’ve won a battle this evening, but can I win the war? Time will tell……

5 thoughts on “War on Cleavers

  1. Ann Mackay says:

    I’m having a war on cleavers too. The seeds get into my long-haired cat’s fur and it seems that I’m always picking them out!


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