Give Weeds a Chance

There’s one chore that pretty much all gardeners dread: weeding. But it’s a necessary evil to keep our gardens looking lovely and to keep the weeds from sucking the life out of our flowers as well as our fruits and vegetables. And it’s a never-ending chore. Spend a Saturday weeding, enjoy beautiful landscaping on Sunday and watch the weeds reappear on Monday.

But a soon-to-be-published book forces us to look at weeds in a new light. An excerpt from the forthcoming “Weeds: In Defense of Nature’s Most Unloved Plants” by Richard Mabey appeared in the recent weekend issue of The Wall Street Journal. It points out that weeds love what we humans do to the soil as we care for our non-weedy plants: watering, fertilizing, digging and nourishing. So it makes sense they would thrive in our well-tended spaces.

And while we might curse the kudzu, the ivy and the dandelions, Mabey asks us to consider that weeds actually give something back.

“They green over the dereliction we have created. They move in to replace more sensitive plants that we have endangered. Their willingness to grow in the most hostile environments—a bombed city, a crack in a wall—means that they insinuate the idea of wild nature into places otherwise quite shorn of it.”

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