Country diary: goosegrass and the glory of spring | Plants

by Newsfeed

There are many ways to be a plant. Hawthorns take their time, laying down annual growth rings before they flower, producing berries year in, year out, and surviving to a grand old age. But weeds like the goosegrass (Galium aparine) are in a hurry. They complete their ephemeral cycle of life, seed to seed, in just a few months. It is January, and already I see their seedlings shouldering aside the decaying leaves along the bottom of a bare hawthorn hedge. They will have germinated only last autumn, but their vibrant green shoots are stealing a march on their competitors whose seeds are still lying dormant in the soil. And the smell … when I pick and crush a handful of its precocious, sappy shoots, buried last week under a layer of snow, it transports me to the first warm days of April.


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