why i am glad i am not a “neat” gardener

Technically speaking, weeds are not our friends.  They should be removed from areas that are being cultivated.  This is what gardening books tells us. We received this advice from our grandmas. In fact, it could even be said that the evils of weeds are accepted as common knowledge. I too understand this concept and part of me agrees with it. Weeds consume valuable resources and shade precious seedlings. They blanket the ground with hundreds upon thousands of seeds waiting to germinate and dominate the landscape, despite the fact that their presence is not requested.  They have no problem showing up uninvited, making themselves comfortable and overstaying their welcome.  Logically, it is in one’s best interest to remove them from the space designated for “important” things before they invite the whole family.  I try to do this, I really do.  

But, life is busy and every weed will not get weeded.  This is okay.

Us cultivators/horticulturalists/gardeners/farmers/lovers-of-all-things-green need to accept this.  We have to recognize that this is okay to let the garden be a little wild every once in awhile.  In fact, some weeds are actually quite beautiful.  Others are beloved by bees. A random assortment are preferred habitat for beneficials.  If we acknowledge and embrace this concept, we can then begin to use weeds to our advantage.  We can use the nature of the natural world in our favor.  We simply have to identify the weeds that we want to have. It could, perhaps, be called weed landscaping.


At the beginning of the season, I was unsure of which plants I was pulling when they were only a few cm tall (there might be something that I wanted or needed and didn’t even know it yet), so I made the executive decision to let the weeds go to eventually remove them in cycles based on when they were almost in the reproductive stage.  

So I waited.

And you know what? The plan is working. Thanks to a Laissez Faire attitude, some really wonderful guests have arrived in the garden. A whole slew of poppy plants have made themselves known. Hairy vetch took over part of the non-raised bed part of the garden to choke out the existing weeds, while enriching the soil with its fantastic N-fixing root nodules. Lemon balm popped up in unexpected corners to scare away the horrid mosquitoes (sort of).  The lovely purple flowers of wild oregano line the edges of the garden.  It is fan-freaking-tastic.  

hairy vetch

What does this mean?

It means that the plants can do (some of) the weeding.  It means that nature can be a gosh darned good landscaper – we only have to work with the existing landscape.

Such a realization affirms my suspicion that while we cannot rid our life of weeds, a weed is only a weed when someone doesn’t want it to be there. Enjoy the beauty in randomness and allow for the possibility of something unexpected by just taking a little bit of time to wait to see what will happen – everything does not demand an immediate reaction.   It may in fact be worth it to forget neat and tidy for a while and go a little crazy.  Go ahead and test your patience, wait and see.  You never know just what might start growing (just be careful – you might really piss off the neighbors!).


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