Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Weeds and Stewardship

My favorite "weed" - wild violets.

A weed is just a plant growing where you don't want it to grow.  The concept of a weed as an unwanted plant is foreign to Nature.  Where a plant can grow, it will, in competition with the plants around it in a never-ending dance and street fight.  Likewise, the concept of a garden, a plot of land planted and maintained to a standard that exists only in the mind of the gardener, is foreign to Nature.  Where humanity meets nature, there grows a garden (because we have this innate need to bring "order" or assign purpose to our surroundings), and where there is a garden, there are by definition weeds - plants out of their (people-) designated spaces.

I enjoyed a long walk around the neighborhood today, over a mile and a half.  I took my camera, and right away my eye was caught by the little bits of color cropping up in yards and by the roads.  Yes, many homes have lovely daffodils and hyacinths blooming now, and the tulips will follow soon, but my eye was attracted to the little jewels, the ragamuffins, the tiny upstarts - the weeds.  So I took pictures of them.

The flowers were naturally more plentiful in yards that had not been treated with commercial herbicides.  I could see the economic/social divisions as I walked through this side of town, from one area to the next.  Generally the bigger, newer homes had fewer weeds, while the smaller/older/rental homes had more weeds.  There's definitely a bit of social pressure to have a weed-free lawn in certain neighborhoods.  My own organic principles (and my admitted lack of fussiness about a lawn) have run up against this peer pressure with this house.  My husband also prefers a nice, green, weedless lawn, so he and I had to compromise.  He will treat the front and side yards (visible from the street)  with some granular weed/feed combo, but we'll leave the back yard play area and veggie garden area chemical-free.  Almost all of our neighbors use a Chemlawn-type service, so there's no way we can avoid runoff or windblown spray, but if we wanted to avoid that altogether we wouldn't be living in this neighborhood, so I've decided to make the best of it.

I have no idea what these are, but they appear every spring, 
like little sapphires in the grass.

Every inch of land on Earth is under someone's stewardship, either in its use or its protection.  I firmly believe that we are stewards of this world under God, and that we should treat it responsibly, whether we have a balcony garden, a suburban plot, an allotment, a farm or an estate.  I get a lot of joy from tending my garden, but I realize that's not everyone's thing.  Still, I enjoy showing others how I see the world, and maybe even encouraging them to think of their property in a different light.  The more they can appreciate their landscape, hopefully the more informed decisions they'll make about its care.  And maybe they'll even learn to appreciate the occasional weed.

More wild violets.

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