Name your Poison
Weeds received almost as much press as the perennials they compete with in gardens. Your university extension office issues white papers after research on every aspect of weed identification, its effects upon agriculture and horticulture, and how to eradicate. Billions are spent each year on chemicals to combat their existence. Then there is the time element of spraying fields and the environmental impact along with equipment costs. The manual labor of crawling about in gardens with your favorite implement popping them out by the roots most often is the least favorite approach to weeding.
I always enjoy the attitudes expressed by garden writers in gardening magazines and books concerning weeds. A few take the technical approach all very direct and informative, while most authors have a more philosophical viewpoint. Sometimes lines of print get stuck in my head as I read. Such as “a weed is a plant without a publicity agent”. Another that I hear often is “a weed is a plant out of desired place”. My final favorite is “the more perennials you have in the garden, the less room for weeds”. That one has a ring of truth, but also a touch of nursery promotion. Personally, I tend to wax a bit philosophically on weeds.
I am aware of all the chemical answers to my weed problems. However, my preference is to crawl about on hand and knees and physically remove unwanted plants. I have my dovetail weeder and time. Time to myself in my garden with head down where I cannot see, nor hear the rest of the world, as my cell phone is never with me in my place of peace. Weeding is an active meditation. All the repetitive motions of removal, the devotional actions of kneeling, then standing to carry debris away, returning to kneeling. That is the physical aspect of weeding.
The physical side of weeding is also a part of my exercise program along with walking up and down my hillside garden, carrying the debris away. I have a problem making myself ‘work out’ but no compulsion against weeding activities.
A spiritual side exists in removing weeds. A removal of weedy thoughts as well the undesired to simply be in the garden. I also find a cleansing, a sense of renewal, the polishing of the space where perennials remain so they can look and be their best.
I may look a bit grubby leaving the garden, and these old bones are sore and tired, but that is only the outward and the physical. Behind my bellybutton I am a bit lighter and brighter from removing a few personal weeds.
Having Said That
The bellybutton approach does not always work. Taking my age, my medical condition into account, there are times when I do not have the energy nor the will to give what it takes to physically weed. Also, some conditions will not work with simple weeding. Yes, I now use the occasional spray to kill off the most noxious and persistent. There is the world as I would like for it to be and then there is the world of reality.