Weeds. Nobody seems to like them. But just what is a weed? According to Wikipedia a weed is “a plant considered undesirable in a particular situation, “a plant in the wrong place”, or a plant growing where it is not wanted. There are generally lists of common weeds, but essentially it is a very subjective term. Who determines what is a weed and what is not? Farmers, landscapers and groundskeepers – like at golf courses, and the garden industry have largely been the definers. And largely it is a matter of appearance determining worthiness – weeds are considered unworthy and messy for landscapes.
But is that something we should accept? The plants themselves are not usually harmful, just aesthetically unpleasing. Why do we value an unbroken stretch of plain green grass over a messy meadowlike expanse? Is that a product of suburban mass development and cookie-cutter landscaping. Does that influence our social development? Good questions.
I must admit I am a wild gardener. I detest topiary and have no great love for large expanses of lawn, not the aggressive pruning necessary for straight edge hedges. I prefer the let the garden grow and plants expand as they were meant to be. I plant things here and there and they mix wildly. I once took out a couple sizable sections of lawn to put in flower borders and a rock garden. I trimmed to clear the sidewalk and to enhance growth but generally let the garden flow.
I once let the dandelions in the front yard expand and fill the space with their bright yellow shine that matched up perfectly with the deep blue of the spring grape hyacinths. I created a border of yarrow, lupine, California poppies by simply scattering wildflower seed packets. Moss and clover in the lawn were not menaces but welcome equally mow-able additions.
Sometimes people bend over backwards to preserve the pristine green. They pour chemical poisons – weed and feed – to eliminate any weeds. Those same chemicals join the water runoff – especially during rain – and become part of the water table that we ultimately drawn our drinking water from.
I feel like we do the same in society. We like things normal and routine and a pleasant palette of people and patterns of behavior. We don’t want complications or “wildness” in our world. We exhibit no love for “weeds”. Have you ever felt like you were considered “undesirable”, “unwanted”, or “in the wrong place”? You shouldn’t.. The butterfly bush, considered invasive, is labeled as a weed because of it’s propensity to crowd out native plants here in the northwest. That is understandable from an environmental . But I believe the designation as a week goes way too far and sets a bad example , It is a thing of beauty with a wonderful aroma that you can smell far away when the wind blows.
People might say “weeds are harmful and poisonous”. True there are some that are. I once discovered that a new green growing thing in my yard was tansy ragweed, which is poisonous to livestock, so I dug it out. But there are plenty of “desirable plants” that are harmful. Jasmine and wisteria are toxic to pets, rhubarb leaves are toxic to humans, and even peach pits contain cyanide. Yet every part of the common dandelion is edible – check out the recipe for dandelion wine at thespruceeats.com . It’s not just a great novel by Ray Bradbury (but do check it out for your readi.ng pleasure).
The point is there may be times when you feel like a weed – unloved, unwanted, out of place. But remember the butterfly bush and the dandelion. You are beautiful, you are wanted by someone – maybe by more than you know. And you belong. We need weeds because they are plants too and we need reminding that they have worth and life is not supposed to be all neat and tidy. Shake up your world – be a weed and make some dandelion wine.