August 18th, 2004
|06:29 pm - Weeding the Garden: The View From the Ground. . .|
Last weekend, I was weeding my garden. It's a big garden, and I don't mind the chaos inherent in the system. In fact, it takes up my entire backyard. It's huge. Most of the weeds I let relax where they are. There are dandelions in the rose bushes. There are Virginia creepers entombing the fence. There are ivy vines that constantly try to wrap a finger around my altar. There are snapdragons in the middle of the path.
But some weeds, well, they just have to go. They get too big for their pots. They start to move into flowerbeds that don't appreciate the intrusion. They choke out life where it is just beginning, because they think that they have a right to. They were, after all, there first.
Poison ivy, belladonna, and jimson weed all get pulled as soon as I see them. Mint wages a constant battle against the basil, and would be winning if I didn't keep a close eye on it.
I keep my garden the way I think Eris would like it kept: destructive plants are kept out, and plants that have the most creative ways of surviving or finding sun are free to grow wherever they land (case in point, the snapdragons in the middle of the path).
But then, how do I draw the line between creative plants and destructive plants? What makes the snapdragon creative, and what makes the belladonna destructive?
Intent and potential. Plain and simple.
I love the way that belladonna looks, and jimson weed too, for that matter, but both plants destroy others. Bindweed is the same way. I don't mind it hanging out in a corner, but when it moves to center-stage, I take matters into my own hands.
The snapdragons aren't trying to take over the path: they're just looking for sun and a place to be happy. They're creative.
Poison ivy is out to conquer the world, it seems, and it destroys my enjoyment of the garden.
The two tomato plants that decided to frolic in the flowerbed instead of the garden are being creative: the flowerbed gets more water, by virtue of location. They don't cover up flowers or choke them.
The maple tree next door drops a load of seeds on my back yard every year. It's simply seeking to increase its species, but the method that it employs is destructive. I spend hours each week in the spring pulling them out, and here I am in late summer still attacking them when they appear. Maple seedlings are not intending to be harmful, but they have a real potential to be.
While weeding, though, I came to wonder: am I a weed that needs to be pulled out, or am I working in creative ways for the greater good? Is what I do destructive, or is it constructive? I get mixed signals.
Sometimes, I think people feel that my influence on various people is destructive, or that it's counter-clockwise enough to break more eggs than fences it mends. People might think that I'm doing too much, or that I'm infringing on their territory. They might think I have ambitions to take over someone else's territory. People may believe that my reasons are innocent, but that my overall effect might be disastrous.
I admit that I'm a weed. I'm certainly not a pretty weed, like a dandelion or elderberries. Instead, I'm one of those that likes to find creative ways to see the sun and collect water. I might even be a bit ruthless in obtaining those things, but it's not because I want to hurt other weeds; indeed, I think that other plants and weeds will be benefited by either my presence or my example, depending on what I can provide.
Perhaps I can turn up the soil a bit for the next plant to come my way. Maybe I can provide some shade when I stand tall over a new plant who needs sun, but can't take it full-force yet. It could be that I provide a home for beneficial insects. I don't spread out because I'm being voracious or parasitic. I spread because I want to help.
But not every gardener likes a bit of chaos disrupting their system. Some gardeners prefer to keep the vegetables separate from the herbs, the flowers away from the hostas. Some live by the great gardener maxim: "Thou shalt not suffer a weed to live!" This goes for the pretty ones, too.
Though I don't believe I'm a destructive weed, others might. Some gardeners might look at their beautiful flowerbed and see me, slightly out of line and definitely out of place, and go to work with a trowel, and transplant me to a hated neighbor's garden. Some might toss me in a heap.
Often, I look at the people who have invested so much time into things that I have only recently become a part of. How to they see me? Was I a harmless little bud at first, full of potential and possibility? Did I grow into something unexpected, and perhaps even dangerous, like belladonna?
Are there gardeners who wish to dig me up? Are there other weeds who envy the sunshine I gather? Have I spread into a flowerbed, and am I choking out something I shouldn't be?
If there are gardeners out there, or weeds who are jealous, would they tell me? Would they see that I'm really only interested in their health and comfort? Would they care? Or will they just weed me when the time is right, or when I get big enough to become a "real" threat?
The point of all this is: even a weed prefers to be reasoned with, rather than ripped from the ground.
Finally, I leave off with one final thought: who among us is the gardener? Who can really decide who to pull, and who to leave?
Current Mood: anxious
Current Music: "Livingston's Gone to Texas", -JB
Its not worth dwelling on whether you are a weed to the guys in charge. Who knows who's looking for what.
Our garden used to be filled with snapdragons. They didn't survive the domestication process. Also, I would quite like some poison ivy in my garden I think.