Thursday, March 17, 2011

Weeds in my backyard

I like to think that I have a rule about weed in my backyard. The rule is that if the weed is pretty, it gets to stay. If it's ugly, it must go. The rule is firmly enforced every year until about May, when days get hotter, mosquitoes start swarming, and vegetable gardening starts taking off.

But now, in March, it's fine to have nice ideals like that.

I don't understand why some plants are considered weeds. Take violets, for example. Do you see that lovely plant in the picture below? Pretty purple flowers, deep green leaves. It's a lovely plant. Why would someone want to tear it up? I certainly don't want to... which is, of course, why four years after moving into this house, there are large areas of our backyard which are carpeted with violets. They get big and weedy later on in the season, of course, but by that time they've already re-seeded the yard and a weedwacker won't do them any harm.

Another lovely "weed" is wood sorrel. The leaves look like tiny little clover leaves, and the flowers are a very cheery yellow. It's a low-growing plant, and it would fit in quite well in a flower bed. So why bother uprooting it? Just let it grow and enjoy it.

Of course, not every weed is as pretty as wood sorrel or violet. There are plenty of ugly weeds out there, and I do my fair share of weeding. But even among the eyesores of the plant world, every now and then I am surprised.

I am not very fond of henbit. It grows too tall and spindly, its flowers are too small, and fuchsia really isn't my favorite color anyway. But today, Pearl made a bouquet of flowering henbit that she had picked, and it was actually very pretty.

So even some of the lesser eyesores in the yard can be pretty in the right light. But despite the fact that the weeds in my back yard are pretty, I get the idea that most people prefer their yards to be neatly covered in grass.

Why grass?? If we are talking about invasive, impossible-to-kill plants, grass would be right at the top of the list. It's unattractive, it makes you sneeze, it's itchy, and it can sprout from nothing.

I have to conclude that our society chose grass as a cover plant for one simple reason: if you can't beat it, join it. Grass is the ultimate survivor. I was watching the Planet Earth episode on grasses, and they're indestructible. You can burn them, drown them, have a plague of locusts descend on them, or a hoard of wildebeests, and they will grow. They survive the arctic, deserts, and even pesticides. We cannot win. But, aha! If we pretend like growing grass is an art form, then we have won.

Or so I assume the thought process must have gone. Because I can see no other logical reason for having a lawn full of grass.

But honestly, if you had your choice, wouldn't you rather have a pretty carpet of wild flowers? Or am I the weird one?

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3 have poured out their souls in electronic text:

  • SciReg

    oh it is a great post! I really like it^_^

  • Alan

    But it would be kinda hard to play football on a bed of violets!

  • Sherry

    I did not know it was called henbet(sp?). I loved it as a child & it is edible. I loved to pick it & nibble it. I guess I'm the weird one.