In the winter months I often sit and look through garden photos that I took during the past year. It’s nice to remember how warm it was in June. How the sun felt and the soil smelled. I often take photos as I plant or divide so that I can compare them later in the season. Always impressed by how fast things grow. As do the weeds. It seems that as I look at the “after” photos, I always kind of do an internal groan. They got me again…. Those silly weeds ruin the whole experience for me sometimes.
The other day while I was sitting and watching the flurries fly out my window, I began to make a list of garden goals for 2020. One of those goals was to stay ahead of the weeds. Life gets busy and they always sneak by me. It always seems that the weeds go from tiny little shoots to giant, wheelbarrow filling monstrosities overnight. How they grow that quickly is beyond me. Then I have to spend an entire day ripping and tearing (the garden and my hands) to get things back in order. Those days always seem to coincide with the few 80 degree days we get here in Binghamton which makes the experience even more traumatic.
Not this year I tell myself. This year I am going to take advantage of the cool evenings and do a little bit every night. Or at least every few nights? Once a week? Either way I know I can do better.
But as I continued to look at the photos from last year, and really focus on what I was seeing, some things started to occur to me.
I remembered that the milkweed that came up in my perennial bed played host to some surprise Monarch caterpillars. I remember how excited I was when I looked down and saw them crawling on the “weeds”. If I had pulled them out I wouldn’t have enjoyed watching them.
I remembered how pretty the different types of Asters were that decided to settle themselves into my Daylily bed. I didn’t plant those. I promised myself I would get around to pulling them out… and didn’t. In September they were many shades of white and purple and looked beautiful. I was so glad I didn’t yank them out.
Someone told me once that “anything can be a weed”. Even a good plant in the wrong place can be considered a weed if that is not where you intended it to be. Looking back at these photos it occurred to me that the “weeds” chose my garden, but they didn’t ruin it. They improved it. Sometimes you pick the plants and sometimes the plants pick you.
Although I have resolved to be better about weeding in my garden this year, I have decided to be a little more choosy about what to remove. I plan to evaluate each volunteer and perhaps not pull them all out. Just the ones that will eventually take over or cause a problem. I will leave some of the others. After all they picked me right?