Thursday, 24 April 2014

'What is a Weed?' with Free Illustrated Quote to Download

You are welcome to download and print or simply 'pin' this
300 dpi, A4-size illustration of Emerson's quotation if you wish

We gardeners generally think of weeds as ‘the enemy’, something to root out and hopefully banish forever from our flower beds and vegetable patches.

But years ago I heard the saying:

‘A weed is just a flower growing in the wrong place’ 

And that sparked my interest in how we define exactly what is a weed and what is not.

And how do we distinguish between a ‘wild flower’ and a weed?

It seems to me that the answer to both depends entirely on the context.

My little garden is full of Valerian, Mountain Cornflowers, Snow in Summer and Forget-me-nots, all flowers that some people would regard as weeds. And yet I think they’re very pretty and my garden is often admired!

And some would claim that the white flowers of the Bindweed are no less pretty than the Morning Glories to which they are closely related – they’re just growing in the wrong place!

And here's another definition -

“They’re weeds only if you don’t know how to use them” 

Some, so-called weeds are useful to anyone who knows about herbs. 

Of course, the medicinal uses for Valerian are well known. And even the dreaded dandelions that plague the little green-ish patch I pretentiously call my 'lawn', have some medicinal properties, including use as a diuretic, though I'm definitely not recommending you try them!

Why else would the French name for the Dandelion be ‘Pis-en-lit’ (English Piss-a-bed)? 
NOT my lawn but the grass verges around the
Fire Station on the opposite side of the road -
obviously the source of my healthy dandelion crop!

And of course, where would we be without the dandelions in Dandelion and Burdock, a top favourite with me as a child, though I think synthetic flavourings have replaced the real things these days! 

Here's yet another 'weed' quotation/definition -

“A weed is a plant that has mastered every survival skill except for having learnt to grow in rows.” Doug Larson.

A particularly healthy-looking weed I spotted
by the roadside!

A solitary Green Alkanet grew in an alley or 'loke', as they call them in Norfolk, and I passed it daily on the way to my screenprinting workshop, back in the 1980s. I was so taken by the way its tiny, brilliant blue flowers contrasted with the large green leaves and the pattern they made as they increased in size towards the ground, that one day I decided to sketch it. 

All these years later, I've used that sketch to persuade the Green Alkanet into 'rows' in this repeating pattern!

I’m afraid that by this last definition, if I were a plant, I’d almost certainly be a weed! 

How about you?


Carole Barkett said...

I've not heard of Alkanet but what a beautiful group of designs from it. You've taken something very ordinary and turned it into a thing of beauty. I also love your garden,

Judy Adamson said...

Thank you, Carole - glad you like my Green Alkanet patterns.

I didn't know the name until recently when I was able to find it on the internet and read all about it as well as discovering its name.

(I've always been drawn to 'ordinary things' in order to find their 'extraordinariness'!)