Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Don't Grow Up to Be a Weed

photo of a dandelion by Nancy Zavada

While driving through the coast range, Gardener Bob suddenly asked, “Is that a weed?” pointing to the beautiful purple foxglove along the side of the road.

Nope, I answered.

How about that one? Inquiring about the Queen Anne's Lace, equally as magnificent.

Yes, it’s considered a weed.

Although I had answered very definitively in my best gardening authority voice, I started pondering what makes a weed a weed. It can’t be beauty, because some weeds are quite beautiful. It can’t be smell as the same holds true. Is it the invasive characteristics of the plant? Well, that would make most ground cover qualify as weeds. Hmmmm.

I finally decided it is being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Take for instance, the dandelion. It isn’t a bad looking little plant, the leaves are flat and green, it has a delicate yellow flower which later turns into an exquisite ball of fluff, it can be made into wine and it thrives year round--especially in my yard. As far as I can tell, its only crime is popping up in the middle of manicured lawns and gardens. That must have been enough for us humans to decide it was a weed, giving full power to lots of companies to make lots of nasty chemical products (and money) to help us “control” them.

Feeling sorry for the dandelion plant for getting such a bad rap, I decided to consult the dictionary to prove myself wrong. Unfortunately, I was pretty close. The official definition reads, "weed: A wild plant growing where it is not wanted and in competition with cultivated plants.” Geez, tough crowd.

Take my advice if you are a wild plant, growing as nature intended, not causing harm to anyone; steer clear of the cultivated plants and landscape that humans prize. Just sayin’...

Note: The Urban Dictionary defines weed as, “God’s gift to the world. Brings peace when used wisely.” I think this is a completely different topic.

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