I fondly remember the fairy tale “Jack and The Beanstalk.” In the story, Jack’s mother throws magic beans out a window and one sprouts into an enormous beanstalk that reaches up through the clouds and into the sky where a giant lives with hordes of gold. Well, I am here to tell you that perhaps Jack’s beanstalk was actually a weed and that some of its seeds might very well have found their way into my yard and, quite possibly, your yard as well. Before I even finish typing my thoughts, I am sure these weeds will have grown at least another five inches and are quickly germinating throughout my yard and up to the heavens.
First, I’d like to know who makes the deciding factor as to what constitutes a weed and secondly, why are weeds are so bad? My neighbors and I spend a small fortune and invest quite a bit of sweat equity into eradicating weeds from our yards. In general, society has instilled in homeowners that particular plants are in fact weeds that are undesirable and should be killed and destroyed at all cost. Yet weeds are quite stalwart and grow where our tenderly cared for, gently spoken to, fertilized, and watered plants will not grow. But weeds don’t care if they are watered, if their tops are cut off by lawnmowers, if they are fertilized, or even whether they get any sun. They continue to grow and wage a war against all non-weeds.
As a child, I remember wandering into a field near our home and picking what I thought were beautiful flowers to present to my mother. As I matured, I realized the flowers I so lovingly picked for her actually came from plants that I now know are considered weeds. Who among us has not picked the seed head of a dandelion and blown its delicate seeds into the air while making a wish? Dandelions are weeds, and yet they delight us as we make our wish and blow their seeds off into the wind. There are some people that even eat dandelions and swear they are delicious and nutritious.
My mother considered Lantanas a weed and I now see them for sale at local nurseries and garden centers. They still have a distinctly odd smell that I remember from my childhood. So why are they now deemed as acceptable plants for our yards? How did they get off the list of weeds? Did a government official or some distant relative of the famous botanist George Washington Carver suddenly decide they were no longer to be categorized as weeds?
Somehow, I’d like to become part of the committee that determines what constitutes a weed. I’d vociferously lobby to have a vast array of plants that are healthy and sprouting throughout all of our yards removed from the “Weed” category. As a result, I am sure I’d become a hero for saving all homeowners the time, energy, and frustrations of battling with weeds. And, no longer having to fight the “Weed Battle” would leave us more time to pick dandelions to either eat or send our special wishes floating off into the world with their seeds.