Introducing a 6 part once a week series (or extravaganza, depending on how much you like weeds) about the common Spring weeds you meet everyday in Berlin. Starting with red dead nettle:
Red dead nettle is a weed in your neighbourhood right now. Like Dandelion it provides nectar for bees at a time when not many other flowers are open and it grows anywhere that has bare sunny soil. Or even in street cracks.
Uses for people?
not really. Apart from a tea that makes you sweat- but the Latin name has interesting origins:
'Lamium purpureum' – The generic name is from the Greek lamia which means ‘devouring monster’ in reference to the helmet shape of the flower which has the general appearance of open jaws.
This seems a big name for an unassuming plant but it does devour any bare ground.
The reason this plant is called 'Dead nettle' is because the leaves superficially resemble the leaves of Common Stinging Nettle but they have no sting. The plant has probably evolved this look-a-like device as a defensive weapon.
This plant is also distantly related to Mint and many other favourites like Lavender and Sage but unlike Perennial Mint it is an annual- so comes and goes in Spring wherever it pleases spreading a pleasant purple carpet that we pass everyday in the street.
If you want to grow your own weeds for wild life now is the perfect time to sow wild flower seeds. They flourish in bare sandy soil and that makes them perfect for Berlin.
Rake up bare soil with a tough short prong metal rake (it breaks up soil more easily)
Throw your seeds down:
It is that simple.
Plant a mixture of bought seed, or even better collect seed of wild plants you like in Autumn when the seeds are dry and save them up to throw in Spring.
If you are interested in Spreading your weeds, removing your weeds or have any gardening questions email me, Sophie, our friendly expat gardener at email@example.com.
Enjoy your weeds!