dressed to weed


Sunny and warm: a perfect morning for cats and gardeners. The cat had her chores, mainly to stare at interesting things in the garden, and I had mine.


Task #1 was to deadhead the arctotis (African daisy) that has been blooming for several months. This is the “before” on one plant…


…and the “after” on another. Arctotis goes on blooming regardless of whether it’s been deadheaded or not. But the plants looked like they were winding down for the year, and I was hoping to extend their season a bit.

The plants are attractive, but I thought the bucket of trimmings was pretty cool, too.



Chore #2 was to weed one of the patches of bromeliads that we’d let loose in the back of a raised bed. bromeliad-spines The plant has rigid spines like teeth on a sharp saw blade, which makes weeding tricky, and forces you to ask yourself, “Do I really want to do this?”

John started on the task and ended up with bloody forearms. Not happy. He went for the pitchfork, thinking we could lift the clumps, weed under them, and then set the clumps back. These are plants with almost no roots, and that would have worked fine.

But I proposed another idea. I have these long cordura motorcycle gauntlets that I use when I ride my scooter when it’s cold out. They protect your hands, but also your forearms. Would those work for the garden, too?


I suited up, first a thick long-sleeved sweatshirt, and then the gauntlets. Okay, it’s not particularly haute couture, and it’s not a look I’d want to inflict on the world. But it worked.

bromeliad-bloom-closeupWhy all this effort? Well, the flowers are pretty stunning right now in an unrestrained, tropical way. And the plants are surprisingly drought-tolerant.

Weeding around them seems to be the main challenge. But now we’ve got an easy solution…

(Addition, May 9, 2012: Thanks to Kathryn who commented with a probably ID. Tracking down her lead led be to the Florida Council of Bromeliad Societies’ Bromeliad Species Database, where the best fit seems to be Aechmea distichantha v. glaziovii. You have no idea how much it bothers me to have a plant that I don’t know the name of, so it’s one more down, a few dozen in the garden to go…)

11 thoughts on “dressed to weed”

  1. Yikes! And I thought my weeding chores were bad.

    I dug out a bunch of nutsedge last week, leaving large holes, which produce poor drainage, which will produce more nutsedge if I don’t fill in the holes. I did fill in a few already, but I have a lot more left to go. It’s a good thing we’re entering the dry season!

  2. Gayle, I dropped a note at your blog about my own sedge problems. Given my choice between a few spines and unstoppable sedge, I’d pick the spines any day. Good luck with your eradication!

    Karen, not a look to emulate, eh?

  3. I asked a specialty grower how he weeded around them and he said long handled tongs like you use in the kitchen.

    1. I didn’t have my camera with me on one of my last nursery trips. Next to the little 2-inch pots of cactuses was a pair of barbecue tongs to help you get the spiny critters into your shopping cart. Pretty funny.

  4. Hi, in your post about dressed to weed you talk about a bromeliad that is nasty and spiny but you don’t mention the name of it. I was wondering if you would or could tell me the name of that plant.Thank you so much for your time.

    1. Hi Kathryn,
      This was a hand-me-down plant with no label. There are several species in the spiny planting, including an Aechmea fasciata, which is pretty painful to work with, but not nearly as spiny as the evil plant in question. It’s very likely another Aechmea, and looks like the hybrids Blue Tango or Del Mar, but it could be something that looks a lot like them. I can try to ID it when it flowers, probably later this spring.

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