Here are some pictures of wild plants that I took this morning. I didn’t plan on appreciating these plants and really, I hadn’t noticed them until just now.
Are they weeds? Aren’t weeds supposed to be dull and rather plain? These plants are interesting and look like something you would see on a packet of seeds to purchase. I look at them, and marvel at how they are healthy, prolific, and beautiful and kind of wish I had planted them. But, they are wild. No nurturing, only a will to grow and flourish. Unfortunately, they are all growing in spots that they shouldn’t. Well, spots that I have called off limits to riff-raff plants… namely my blueberry rows. I am often tasked with weeding and these plants are destined to be “weeded out” quite soon. The term “weeding” usually means getting rid of the parts of the group that aren’t deemed up to par. It can mean any number of things, but in a garden, the obvious reference is to plants. Plants that are not like the others, or not growing in the right place, maybe messing up a straight row, or plants that weren’t intentionally placed. Note that I didn’t say anything about them being weak or ugly. It seems silly, really, to pull out healthy plants just because I say so. The task entails pulling up plants and tossing them aside. You pull the plant up, roots and all, and wish it not to grow back… ever. Does the weeder know all about the unwanted plants? The vast diversity of unwanted plants? Perhaps they have some beneficial quality. Maybe they are lovely to look at if given the chance to bloom, perhaps fragrant, edible, or medicinal. I have been interested in wild plants and their usefulness for quite a while, but I don’t know enough to judge and have been known to relocate a few.
The distinction between what is a wildflower, weed or herb is relative to your wants and needs for that particular space – right then. Everything changes. Lambsquarters is a weed to me. I pull them out and discard them, but they are edible. Mint is an herb, but is so invasive that it is recommended you only grow it in a pot. Countless wildflowers are mown down because they are only recognizable when they bloom. The lesson here, I believe, is the need for knowledge. But, to know everything about every plant is unrealistic. Some knowledge is critical though, like identifying poison ivy… and what about being able to pick something to eat? That can also be important. At the very least, we should make an effort to know the value of native plants in our immediate area. Go outside and look around for wild plants, and then look them up on the Internet or in a book and find out the name and something about it. I believe they deserve that.