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Sunday, May 1, 2016

From my Front Porch

Monday, June 24, 2002

To weed or not to weed, that is the question

When we bought our present home, the flower gardens surrounding it were beautiful. They were literally the talk of the town and their botanically gifted and visionary caretaker had just been awarded the prestigious "Yard of the Month" designation by the local garden club. Then the symbolic earthen covered trowel and a coordinating pair of gloves were passed on to me along with landscaping plans and dozens of seed catalogues. With all of this came the hope that I would be able to carry on the fine gardening tradition that had been set forth and, hopefully, firmly established by my predecessor.

To be quite frank, after a year in my care the trowel is rusty and the pair of gloves is now a glove. What I incorrectly perceived as a fairly simple task has been revealed to be incredibly overwhelming. So much of this is new to me. After all, I come from a part of the country where Mimosa trees grow prodigiously and there is no need to buy them in buckets at the local gardening center. In order to relieve some of this self-imposed stress, I have decided to just let nature take its course this first year.

Not everyone understands that I actually have a plan. I have occasionally observed my neighbor, an avid and able gardener in her own right, wandering across our shared property line and having mercy on some of my flowerbeds. Thank goodness for not-so-small favors. I know what some folks are wondering. Just how hard can it be to pull a few weeds? Well, my answer to that question is simple. How can you eliminate something if you are not sure what it is? The truth is I struggle with the fine art of weed identification. When God created the paradise called Eden, I assume there were no weeds or "bad plants" in the garden. So, by whom and why were specific botanical wonders designated undesirable?

Oddly enough, some acceptable plant seedlings look a lot like so-called weeds. A lesson this PTA mom learned the hard way back in Mississippi after spending a good bit of time one afternoon sprucing up the flowerbed around our school's flagpole. Unbeknownst to me, months earlier the school librarian and resident gardening expert had sowed some Larkspur seeds in the area. She had also given me some to take home. It was during a conversation about how my Larkspur seeds were doing that she expressed her concern over someone pulling up all of the Larkspur seedlings in the flagpole flowerbed. I immediately realized what I had done and readily admitted my mistake. She laughed, but it was a long time before she let me forget my faux pas.

While many folks are concerned about the appearance of dandelions in their lawns, I rather like them. The yellow blossoms, that give way to wistful parachute puffs, which in turn create more of the yellow flowers, are a sure sign that spring has sprung. And who am I to deny anyone the opportunity to make a wish that will surely come true.

The other day, while I was outside looking over my yard, my gardening neighbor came over for a visit. I took advantage of the situation as an opportunity to educate myself by asking her questions about this plant and that. In the corner of one flower bed growing proudly and vigorously was a tall plant. I asked her what it was called and she said, "Well, it's a pretty safe bet that if it's that tall (about three feet) and hasn't bloomed yet, it's probably a weed."

Well, that may be one for the books, but it's an easy enough rule to remember and it's certainly one more good reason why I'll continue to enjoy my dandelions.