Through careful observation I have identified three major classes of horticultural expertise in my neighborhood. This article is not intended as a judgment on the landscape choices of others, and tolerance for differing horticultural tastes remains a respectful gardening practice. I merely draw conclusions from the readily available data.
Lawners pour weed-killing chemicals and fertilizer on their properties. Hydrated by tank-loads of water the single crop—grass—grows magnificently. As the grass reaches a certain height determined by the wheel adjustments of the expensive lawnmower in the garage, the lawn is clipped (always in the same pattern) with the carefully bagged clippings deposited at the curb for the yard waste pickup. The cycle is then repeated.
Gardeners tend a stand or two of grass interspaced with plantings both ornamental and native. The gardener’s goal is to create a sustainable environment that fosters habitat for critters especially bees and butterflies. Often the gardener includes edible plantings and happily consumes the harvest. The gardener hates most weeds and invests hours removing them. If the infestation expands the gardener may, like the lawner, resort to the application of herbicides to battle the weeds.
Weed farmers adhere rigidly to principles of laissez-faire in the lawn. They mow (or do not mow) as the whim strikes them whatever grows on the property. A single weed farmer can, by his lawn care choices, generate an endless supply of noxious weed seeds to infest the landscapes of both the lawner and the gardener.
The neighborhood was once a farm in the early 1900’s. Before the grading and house building launched ample evidence of that farm existed: barbwire fencing, a hand-dug well (lovely but extremely dangerous to exploring children), and a tree-lined gentle sloping wagon trail up to the main house site. When I arrived in 1987 to choose my lot the fields had grown thick with a mix of mature pines and hardwoods. One by one lots were cleared, house sites were prepared and top soil was scraped away. Homeowners purchased plots with clay subsoil covered by fast growing grass. And each owner received in the transaction a plethora of inert weed seeds waiting for their opportunity to make an appearance.
Weeds do not care about the homeowner’s horticultural leanings. Under the right conditions, which appear to be a brief rain followed by a period of sun, the seeds germinate and infect the lawn and the garden. Scientists claim that weed seeds can lie dormant in the soil for many years. Disturb the soil in any way, allow that seed access to the sun, and the rascal will sprout forth with vigor.
Weeds progress rapidly from sprout to mature plant to flowers or fruit and on to a new crop of seeds. Some species spread by roots as well as seeds in their march across the lawn. And the seeds can spread far beyond their birthplace by hitching rides on the breeze or the critters. Weeds must by nature be aggressive growers to complete their life cycle before the lawner and the gardener show up with the herbicides.
I’ve dropped pre-emergent herbicides in February some years, spot-sprayed post-emergent herbicides annually in spring and summer, and manually removed weeds year-round while crawling on my knees, yet those prolific weeds grow faster than the plants which receive regular care.
Earlier this month, as I soaked the knees of my jeans while kneeling to retrieving weeds winding their way upwards inside the azalea bushes, I began to think about spiritual parallels. Usually weeds are viewed in a negative light, and we apply herbicidal words like uproot, destroy, and remove. Yes, those were my intentions for the weeds, but as I worked I gained a new perspective for this branch of the horticultural universe.
I thought of a positive set of words to describe weeds: persistent, determined, purposeful, resolute, and tenacious. Seems the weeds had a lesson to teach me. Those seeds put their all into thriving and achieving their goal of reproducing. Their roots cling to the soil requiring great force on my part to dislodge them.
The life of faith in Jesus Christ is not an easy existence. We struggle. We gain ground and lose ground. We often stumble and fall. Paul instructed young Timothy to flee and fight, words which suggest a determination to continue no matter the opposition.
But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses
1 Timothy 6:11-12 NASB
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
2 Timothy 4:7 NASB
In writing to the church at Corinth Paul employed military terms to describe our actions in the faith. Later he taught the Ephesians believers about the spiritual armor God provides to enable our walk of faith (Ephesians 6:11).
For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,
2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NASB
Weeds are persistent, determined, purposeful, resolute, and tenacious? Maybe I need to adopt some of the character of the weeds in my daily life.
What weeds do I see most often in my lawn and gardens? Here are the top performing weeds I find invading my lawn and garden beds.
Image of Japanese Stiltgrass is courtesy of Chuck Bargeron, www.invasive.org, University of Georgia
Image of Annual Bluegrass is courtesy of http://www.walterreeves.com. Accessed 2/28/2019.
Image of Mouseeared Chickweed is a GodPlantedAGarden original.
Other weed photos are courtesy of Dr. Lambert McCartey. Clemson University. Clemson, SC. Accessed 2/28/2019 on https://www.weedalert.com/
The “Garden of Weedin” figurine was a gift to my mother, Mary Nichols, from her gardening neighbor, Linda. I am honored to include this in my garden, another special garden connection,