It's actually part of the cabbage family and apparently, in years gone by, its leaves were eaten as a source of protein when people were too poor to buy anything better. Not sure I'd fancy it myself though!
Don't be fooled by those pretty yellow flowers. It is a voracious grower and spreads rapidly. The new growth is spindly and shallow rooted. The older growth (as I found to my cost at the weekend) has long, interconnecting roots and is a PIG to dig up!
Its seeds have been known to germinate even after up to 50 years of laying dormant in the soil - which is why the weed is such a common site in ploughed fields. I don't know if our garden was ever ploughed, but the flippin' seeds have come from somewhere!
I'd never really noticed the charnock before, but it was a bit rampant this year .... until last weekend, that is! I was fairly sure it was a weed and a knowledgeable friend/ weed expert identified it for me. The part of the garden it had sprung up in is the area behind the fruit cage, which I cleared of stones and dug over last year to transplant the rhubarb into it - Aaha! Yikes! It's all my fault!!!
The piggin' seeds were there all the time, lying in wait for some idiot to come along and dig 'em up!!
What it looked like pre-Charnock can be seen here: http://nuttygnome.blogspot.com/2010/02/so-what-was-i-doing.html
In fact, what it looks like post-Charnock can also pretty much be seen there too except that the rhubarb is in there now! Having dug up the Charnock, without disturbing the rhubarb, I've sown Honesty and Poppy seeds across the bed around the base of the variegated maple. I can't wait for them to come up.
The rhubarb is well travelled - and not just from inside the fruit cage to outside it either! It originally came from the famous Yorkshire 'rhubarb triangle' about 20 years ago. .http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/2010/02/the_rhubarb_triangle.htmlIt It was brought down the 30 miles from the triangle to Rotherham (where we lived at that time) via a link that is best kept secret(NEVER give away the source of rhubarb triangle rhubarb!), then up to Aberdeen (long way, long story!) and back to Chesterfield 10 years later, where it was split into 4 and is still going strong. When I moved ours out of the fruit cage last Autumn, I split it into 4, gave 2 away and planted the other 2. It does mean we can't have our own rhubarb crop this year as it needs time to re-establish itself, but it's doing well.
Also doing well are the willow shoots I planted about 6 weeks ago at the top end of one side of the vegetable garden to hide our large and motley collection of compost bins. The holes are actually the 200 leeks I planted at the weekend! They are to the left of the onions and garlic and above the globe artichoke, carrots, spring onions, pak choi and chinese cabbage.
These are some of my carrots before I thinned them! This may not seem much to get excited about to you, but I didn't need to thin them last year as you can't really thin one single carrot!
I planted FIVE rows last year and all I got was one measly carrot - it may have been the biggest and most perfect carrot I've ever grown, which isn't saying a lot given my previous lack of success with carrots, but it was only one. Threatening them that this was their last chance obviously did the trick!
Further down the garden, the azalea is looking seriously fabby this year and works so well with the colours of the Laburnum tree and the Wigelia.
........ and the poppies are abundant this year too.
A hard winter obviously means we get a cracking spring show!