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Of Weeds and Wake Up Calls

Garden Reports and Rejoicing – January 18

Currently, my most popular talk is titled “Myths, Lies, and All The Latest Dirt.” In this presentation the image below introduces a spiel about dealing with weeds. The myth/lie is, of course, that if you just buy this product you won’t have to deal with weeds. (Substitute the words in italics for the weed-control product du jour.)

As I speak about the illusion that a garden can be weed-free, I usually mention that years ago, when I was a new gardener, I discovered that weeds are actually a gift.

Yesterday I gave this talk to a local garden club and when I mentioned the possibility that weeds could be a blessing there were audible gasps. Many in the audience clearly didn’t agree.

I understand that weeds are a difficulty and that we all wish this aspect of gardening would just go away. But viewing troubles as a godsend isn’t an original thought by any means. You can find thousands of people who speak about how their dilemmas, diseases, or obstacles were actually a blessing. They frequently talk about these trials as a “wake up call.”

Of course I am in no way comparing the weeds in my garden with someone who has cancer or another debilitating disease. The chickweed, crabgrass, and poison ivy I pull do not compare to the life and death issues that many deal with. Yet the ability to see a difficulty as a blessing comes from the same place.

When it comes to dealing with situations we truthfully have no control over, altering our perspective as we cope with those circumstances can mean the difference between recognition and despair. And most would agree that in choosing to acknowledge a different viewpoint, we usually move toward growth.

This photo shows several baby chickweed that have sprouted under the Heuchera. Despite the mulch and my attention, by the way. This is how life is. Weeds come and must be dealt with, no matter what we've done or which products we've used. I've learned that these weeds are a gift...have you?

8 comments to Of Weeds and Wake Up Calls

  • A weed is only a weed when you decide it is a weed. A weed could be a seedling tree growing in your garden, A wild grass that has seeded in your garden a bunch of I wonder what that is sprouting up. Its only a weed when you decide it is a weed. Until then its a flower, a tree or a I don’t Know until you decide its a weed. So what is a weed?

  • A weed is a plant you don’t want. Or more broadly, something that you don’t want to grow in your life. The question I’m asking is this: are we able to see these unwanted growths as gifts and blessings?

  • They are both, as we accept them. They are telling us something… Like your soil or life is sour or it is sweet and wonderful. Weeds of the garden and weeds of life are very similar.

  • We have learned to embrace our weeds, some of them anyway, as free plants that do really well in our climate and soil conditions. It makes life easier and the garden prettier. Some people call them wildflowers instead of weeds.

  • Joyce

    Weeding is therapeutic. And anyone is blessed who remains able and comfortable with this “enhancing task”. Rather than the alternative of planting densely I don’t dread and even enjoy the immediate visual benefit from weeding.

  • I agree with you both- Frances and Joyce!!

  • Steph Boccaccio

    I love heuchera. Have several different plants and I want them to be beautiful on their own with NOTHING around them. I do love to sit in the sun and weed however.