“What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have never been discovered.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
My dilemma in gardening is and has always been a struggle to decide what is a weed that should be plucked and what is a plant worthy of staying. It may sound foolish, but I truly battle. Some of the prettiest flowers in my yard I am told are weeds.
I decided to do some research. Surely I cannot be the only person who wonders why certain flowers should be uprooted from the flower beds. Certainly I cannot be the only person to question who gets to decide which flower is worthy and which is unworthy.
It delights me to tell you that google has revealed that in fact I am not the only one. I found a very helpful article in the Chicago Tribune titled WEED OR FLOWER? WHO DECIDES? written June 12, 2010. It is a question and answer article written by Tim Johnson who is a horticulturist at the Chicago Botanical Garden. The very first question of the article asked him if there was any biological difference between weeds and plants, and how does one decide which is a weed. His answer was as follows:
“I define a weed as a plant that is growing where it is not wanted in the garden. Different gardeners will have different ideas as to what constitutes a “weed” in the garden. For example, are violets in the lawn weeds or interesting spring color accents?”
OH. That is fantastic. So I can leave my pretty weeds if I want too! Tim Johnson goes on to say that weeds do not pose a threat to the native plants. I am thrilled. I have been gardening all these years under the assumption that weeds are very bad for the garden because they take over and destroy the “real” plants. But Mr. Johnson, expert horticulturist, says different. Weeds do not destroy the other plants. They simply mess with the visual effect of the garden. So if I like my flowering weeds and think they are beautiful and don’t mind them mixing in with the other flowers….well …..I can keep them. In fact most people would not even know that they were admiring a weed in my flower bed. Most people would assume it is a flower. How about that?
There are, however, invasive plants. “Invasive plants are not weeds. Invasive plants are usually non-native and are able to establish themselves within existing native plant communities and pose a threat to the integrity of the plant community.” They are plants not weeds. hmmm.
It’s a lot for me to ponder. In the meantime I’m going to be a little kinder to my weeds. After all according to the expert, “Weedy plants readily spread, especially in disturbed areas, but generally do not pose a threat to the integrity of native plant communities.” And you know…there is something about this that smacks of Jesus.
Maybe, just maybe if we allowed a few more weeds to live harmoniously among us our churches would flourish. After all, “are violets in the lawn weeds or interesting spring color accents?”
I’m going to simply enjoy the beauty and let God sort it out.