April 14, 2013


Well, vacation's over, and it's back to reality. In this case, reality presents itself as a thriving mass of weeds threatening to engulf a large area in my backyard that was supposed to be the exclusive domain of some hydrangeas and my vegetable garden. I guess the weeds didn't get the memo.

Weeds are blown in my the wind, dropped from a bird's intestine, brought in on an unwary gardener's shoes or pants. Once established, they quickly spread into any available niche. Just look at any sidewalk crack, and you will likely find something growing out of it. That's the thing about weeds. They keep coming at you. You can't turn your back on them or they will take over.  It's what they do.

Still, you have to give weeds their due. Despite our best efforts to eradicate them, weeds survive and thrive. You can nuke them with chemicals, pull them out root and branch ... their response is, "That all you got?"

And what makes them weeds, anyway? Looked at objectively, some weeds have flowers that are quite attractive. Weeds perform all the beneficial functions of plants and have the virtue of requiring zero maintenance. And yet, in mankind's perverse inability to leave well enough alone, we methodically attack those things that grow effortlessly and replace them with plants that require constant feeding and watering and pruning and yes, weeding, to keep them going. Does that make any sense?

Some think we should make a virtue of necessity. When weeds took over an abandoned section of New York's high-rise railroad, some Upper West Siders wanted them goner while others liked what they saw and wanted to leave things as they were. The High Line is now an urban parkland, weeds and all.

That level of enlightened thinking has not reached my backyard. Slave to convention that I am, I will go to the tool shed and grab my spading fork and gardening gloves and spend the next several hours --maybe days -- uprooting perfectly good plants because ... well, it's what I've always done.

And when the job is done and the weeds are gone -- either turned back in to the soil or placed in large paper bags for removal by the city -- I will look upon my creation and pronounce it good. At least until next weekend, when the weeds will have recovered their toehold and the battle begins anew.

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