Saturday was a perfect summer day: lightly warm, little breezes pushing puffy clouds around, giving intermittent shade. With the blueberries harvested and the tomatoes not ready, I took my fishtail weeder in hand and went out to weed the garden.
Weeding shows how well adapted humans are for gardening: anyone with thumb and index finger has a deft tool for weeding at arm’s end, able to extract one small sprout from between others. I use the fishtail weeder to pry out deep roots and rhizomes, but nothing’s better than fingers at close quarters.
The other thing we’re well adapted for is difference of opinion. A weed is something growing where you don’t want it, and one person’s weed is another’s treasure. Community values, current fashion, material needs, individual taste, and no doubt many other things factor into the decision: to pull or not to pull.
Take for instance milkweed. It’s right in the name: weed. Whatever its history, it is in good repute today because Monarch butterflies are endangered, and it’s crucial to their survival now. In this photo it’s growing in a mix of sage, chives, mint, and invasive grass. The mint and chives spread like crazy, but it’s only the grass that I’ll be pulling out.
Then here’s a raised bed full of nascent zinnias, edged by violets that have colonized the mulch on the garden path. They’re invasive but I love the scent of violets in spring, so I pull them back just enough to keep the path open.
After I cleared out the excess violets, I discovered they were hiding a perfect example of right thing, wrong place: a baby redbud tree has sprung up inside the garden, exactly where no tree should be. I’m going to scout around the yard for a good spot for it, and it will be transplanted.
So I knelt happily on my foam pad, hands in the dirt, making order of chaos, and in a short time found another lovely surprise: Baby Boo pumpkins dangling like a string of Christmas lights. Mixed holiday metaphors, I know, but they did seem like a gift. I planted the seed, true, but dirt, rain, and sunlight did the rest.