Delayed Weeding Can Yield Garden Treasures


Flowery weeds and volunteers

I’m sure most of you have heard some version of the old adage, “A weed is simply any plant growing in an unwanted place.” When combined with “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” you can sometimes have eye-opening conversations (especially with neighbors).

I doubt many would argue that the photo array above departs from beauty, at least in the state of the plants when photographed. With the exception of the bee balm (monarda fistulosa), each is a volunteer in my garden. I included the latter because it has spread mercilessly (sometimes with my help).

I found the wild geranium (geranium maculatum) in my vegetable garden during last year’s spring weeding. It seemed to be something I might want to see as it matured so I moved it to an area more to my liking. I’d almost forgotten about it until it bloomed. A quick internet search helped me identify this delicate-bloomed plant. I was thrilled that I’d kept it.

The yarrow (achillea millefolium) showed up near the house itself when we stopped mowing every square inch of lawn a few years ago. Whether it was brought in by birds or the poor thing simply sprang free of being mowed down every year will remain a mystery. Happily, it continues to spread and I will try to transplant it throughout the garden. I love the bright flowers it brings as do the bees and butterflies.

Weeds or Medicinal Herbs?

Only recently did I educate myself about the prickly lettuce (lactuca serriola). I decided to attack the weeds growing on our bank. This tallish, dandelion-like beast was prolifically volunteering all over the embankment. Thankfully, it’s a relatively painless plant to pull—the prickly part isn’t painful and the roots are quite shallow. However, my interest was piqued enough for me to identify it. Once again, Google came through and informed me that this “weed” had some fascinating medicinal qualities.

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