This discussion of weeds: is there really such a thing? has generated a touch of interest and a tad of controversy, so I think we should stay on the weed, for now, so to speak. In this post, I look at what constitutes a weed. As in the words of one famous reveler, “A weed by any other name would smell as sweet.” Another fellow reveler put it better when he said, in relevant part (the rest is good too, check it out in the full comment appearing earlier today):
I recently listened to a podcast where someone said ‘a weed is an herb growing in the wrong place’. It still makes sense if you broaden the term herb to plant. Although I never thought of it, weeds serve to help the garden. Weeds are often some of the first flowers to appear in the garden and attract bees and other beneficial insects. Check out
and listen to the episode on weeds. It gave me a whole new outlook on weeds, and gave my garden a different look- especially the part that now grows wild. Once I did go walking through the wild section with a machete. It’s not that it is that wild, I just needed to cut the tall grass seeds and get rid of them without damaging the red clover growing below. The lawn mower would have cut everything. … I hate to kill plants, especially if I planted them. (Thanks Ralph!)
As I mentioned, my mother is here visiting from Wisconsin. She has been preparing, for quite a long time now, for one massive blow-out rummage sale in Beloit in August. My mom seems to be a magnet for things: she knows antiques, books, history, dishes, furniture, philosophy, literature, music, records, record players, and this and so much more. She seems to be able to find something to appreciate in nearly every person and every thing. For that reason, she has amassed quite a collection of oddball items and exquisite finds. And it is all good stuff. It’s just that it’s still, well, stuff. She has recognized the need to let go of it, and saying good-bye to all of it, properly, has turned out to be quite an undertaking. She has undertaken to meticulously wash, inspect, iron, shine and spiff every little thing and every little thing on every little thing. My dad has suggested the process is ravaging her, and she needs to just let go of it. Which is exactly what she is doing. She, I believe, in this ritual preparation is saying good-bye to these things of hers which have become weeds.
For a year or more, I went through a process of letting go of decades of collected stuff. The task was to big for me on my own. I had a professional clutter buster who helped me see that the only way to make room for new and better things in your life is to let go of the clutter, which is, basically, anything that’s not useful anymore. So over the course of that year, I undertook multiple clutter busting sessions. The process changed my life. I happened upon his blog today, and found this very apt description of his of clutter busting:
It’s common that clients are surprised at how much stuff they actually have. As the clutter bust proceeds, more and more stuff is found hidden in drawers, closets, under the bed, in boxes, underneath things and in piles. It’s like the clown car at the circus, twenty clowns end up coming out of a tiny car.
We get anesthetized by our clutter and we lose touch. Our awareness is dulled. In the same way vision can get hazy, awareness gets out of focus. We get used to the blur and it becomes normal for us.
That’s why I’m kindly relentless with encouragement to dig deeper into your stuff. There’s hidden stuff silently wrecking your life.
see today’s post (June 27, 2011) on Brooks Palmer’s blog:
I think if there’s room left for the word “weed,” to me it would be defined as clutter in the garden.
If you take a close look at the portrait
of my garden
, you’ll notice that there’s a patch of brownish green grass toward the bottom (close to my house and farthest from the fence), and, as described, this is where begins the grass/weeds/wild section of the yard
. It occupies several feet from where the picture ends to the front of my house. My mom suggested that I build up the soil in that area to keep rainwater from seeping and puddling toward the basement. And, she said, as long as I’m at it, I may as well plant some things there too. I’m wondering if this is her subtle way of disapproving of that remainder of the yard that is still wild and unruly. Were she to make a blatant suggestion that I do anything with it other than let it be as it is, she knows I would defend it and launch into one of my weeds-are-plants-too rants. Bless her heart.
I may do it. I may try to tame that part of the yard. I’m not sure if that wild part of my yard is a nod to my own rebellious side, or if I just got exhausted plotting and planting the front half of the yard, and let the rest of it rest. I will probably do something in the back half. I’ll probably put my mom to work on it too. Who knows what we’ll discover there. It takes a very special dynamic to garden with another person. Maybe instead we’ll just kick back with some beer and cheese, and watch the grass grow.
QUESTION: What in your life, or garden, or garden of life needs weeding? Is there anything in your garden that has lost its usefulness to you? What other plant or thing might arrive when you make room for it? Go ahead … gimme the dirt!