“What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have never been discovered.” – R. W. Emerson
I wondered the other day where this burst of gardening love comes from. It started last fall — paused, as it were, through winter — and now with spring I cling tightly. I love the sense of self I feel when I, though little, can pick up and move around heavy objects. And oh the fruits of it all.
Much like taking walks, I also feel mental clarity churning through soil, an attempt to organize the chaos underground. So if it’s clarity and calm I am after, what do I do with weeds?
I attended a lecture last week on the virtues of weeds. I went home and saw the problematic side yard, and started working with urges to pull and organize the chaos. I couldn’t get them all even if I wanted to. Sheer exhaustion and a bit of defeat set in. They will be back in droves the moment I look away. So with focused energy, I pulled only the milkweed. A few days later, I read of a woman’s attempt to save the great Monarch Butterfly by mailing milkweed across the eastern U.S. to help its spread. Our cherished species depend upon the weeds.
I am a plodding amateur when it comes to gardening. Through this process of deciding what to plant, what to dig up, is shaping what kind of caretaker I will become. My focus today is to be less rigid about what is definitively beautiful, and embrace the ultimate good of healthy native species.
So as in everything we do what we can. The pursuit of balance between the chaos and order in my life, in my garden, will be everlasting. All we can do is work hard, take care, and remember that everything is made of stardust.