Wednesday, July 06, 2011

A weed is a plant that is growing in the wrong place. ~ unknown

Garden mavens, you may want to stop reading now.

When we moved into our new home last July with its beautifully landscaped garden, I promised to learn how to tend the lush vegetation and I’ve tried, really I have. In the fall, I hesitated to pull and discard much, not knowing what was planted where, and as green shoots appeared in the spring, the wonder in watching the yard explode into color in first this patch, then that one, was a delight.

Now it’s mid-summer, and the early flowers have died off. I need to learn which to cut back, which brown stems to pamper a little while longer, and which to pull up and compost. “Eww, that’s a weed – get rid of it!” my more experienced gardener friends point out.
I’ve never understood that. It’s green, it grows nicely. Some even produce delicate flowers. What makes it a weed, something to be eradicated with the vengeance of a Navy Seal?

As I was clearing the yard of downed twigs and branches in preparation for mowing, dutifully yanking up and discarding the nasty weeds, mourning a bit each time I tossed a lush green clump onto the pile, it hit me. Those “weeds” are the common folk. They’re prolific, don’t need planting or cultivating or nurturing. A little water now and then, which Mother Nature kindly sees to if we’re lucky, and they’re happy. No one needs to watch over them when we go on vacation or get too busy to attend to yard we might prefer to pay someone else to do.

And somewhere in the murky mists of time, a gardeners union realized they couldn’t make money off those pesky common folks. They were everywhere, in the village square and the castle garden and everywhere in between. Nurserymen couldn’t charge a fee to tend to such defiantly independent plants.

The entrepreneurial spirit being what it is, the commoners were renamed “weeds,” the undesirable. If they weren’t rare and fragile, how could they possibly be valuable? Isn’t that why diamonds are considered precious? And since everyone who was anyone would rather have diamonds than limestone, those savvy gardeners could now make money eradicating the pests.

A handful of the more popular weeds, those with the brightest, most attractive blooms, were labeled wildflowers and seeds for them now appear on the home supply store shelves where dollars can be earned. But they’re still commoners, tossed into a stray, inaccessible corner or that last strip of soil near the alley.
No more! I have a new cause. If the Lorax (hubby’s alter ego) can speak for the trees, I’ll be the defender of weeds. Unless it’s a noxious plant that causes skin rashes or sick dogs, it’s welcome in my garden. The only criteria for me is aesthetics (on my subjectivity…okay, and maybe hubby’s), not monetary value, scarcity or official imprimatur. I’ll trim a bit here and there, thin things out and keep the plot within vague boundaries so we don’t lose the dogs in the tangle. But no more wholesale destruction of volunteer greenery. In my yard, weeds have been rebranded.

The lazy gal’s garden? Maybe. But I bet I’ll enjoy our patch of green just as much, if not more, than those who wage an unending battle to defeat the hardy common folk.

There’s a life lesson in there somewhere…


  1. Same plant, different spot,
    one's a weed, one is not.
    ~Tami Absi

    The other life lesson: Some plants are aggressive and don't allow room for other types of plants. Perhaps if you consider you're pulling up John D. Rockefeller's ancestor's, you'll be encouraged to weed. I bet Jim would help if you could convince him, too.

  2. Nice. I love your common garden. Things are more beautiful when we let Mother Nature have a hand in it....

  3. As always good post.


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