What on earth is that plant? (Or: why I am bothering to blog)

I have been really unsure about this whole blogging thing since I started The Tree Diaries. And not just since I started it this time round... once upon a time, I had a grand (and ridiculous!) plan to plant 365 trees in 365 days. I started The Tree Diaries in order to record that project, but it was also quite a personal blog about myself and my family. I didn't last very long blogging that time around as it just didn't feel right putting myself forward like that - I am a really introverted person and don't actually love sharing quite as much as I was trying to. Good late-in-life lesson in self-awareness! 

Anyhoo, since then I have loved reading other people's blogs more than ever and particularly gardening blogs. I have also used blogs an awful lot to help me solve my own life and gardening dilemmas.

Most recently, I wanted to identify a particularly vigorous spreading groundcover that is doing really well (read: taking over) in our maple grove. We haven't gotten to underplanting that part of the garden yet and it is just laid with mulch. So I wanted to know if this new plant was worth keeping as a living mulch and weed suppressor, or whether it was an insidious weed that I needed to get rid of as quickly as possible, lest it take over the rest of the garden aswell.

So I googled. Obviously. 

I googled "ferny leafed spreading ground cover with tiny purple flowers" and many combinations like it. Nothing resembling my plant turned up until deep into page 5 or 6 of an image search... there it was! I quickly journeyed over to the page it appeared on, and discovered a lovely blog in which somebody was asking the exact same question. And you know what??? One of the comments on that blog answered it! Some random stranger answered some other random stranger's query and now this random stranger was using that same information to make a decision about what to keep in their garden! Crazy internet!

Anyway, I left a grateful comment and continued on with my day. But it made me realise that I do want to keep blogging about gardening. Perhaps no one will read it (which I am actually very comfortable with), but perhaps somebody will stumble across it when googling "ferny leafed spreading ground cover with tiny purple flowers" and discover that what is growing in their garden is Fumaria officinalis*.

* Hello there person who is trying to identify this plant! To save you some more trouble, here is what I have learned:

Fumaria officinalis is one of a number of varieties of Fumaria, all of which are in the same botanical family as poppies. To be fair, the one growing in my garden may actually be a F. barstardii, but as it is hard to work out if it is a pink or mauve flower (the only identifying difference), and as "bastardii" sounds far less pleasant, I am calling this a F. officinalis. They are annual herbaceous plants, flowering in spring and early summer. They aren't weeds. Or they are weeds... like most things, it just kind of depends where you are gardening, and whether or not you want them there. It isn't a prescribed or noxious weed in my area, and I can't seem to find it listed as one on any other area in Australia either. It has a semi-climbing habit, and can climb on and over other plants in your garden, so it may outcompete other things you want in that space. I have already had to save a Carpobrotus (pigface) that tumbles down our terrace rockwall from being overrun by a Fumaria. My conclusion for our garden is that it will be okay as a temporary ground cover in the maple grove until we figure out what we want to plant there. I will pull it out from anywhere else I find it in the garden, and will have to live with it popping up around the place as long as I allow it to grow in the maple grove (and probably for some years after that).

I hope some of this helps you in your garden!