What is a weed? To the druggie victim “weed” is something that knocks one out of reality in order to act stupid. This is a landscape garden art website. Hemp is weedy, but lots of plants are weedy but in no way a weed. So, what is a weed?
Lawn grasses are weedy. We want them to be weedy when growing in their place for the weedier they are, the thicker mat they will be. Lawn grasses are one of the worst weeds in most perennial gardens.
Common Buckthorn had been a valued garden plant for more than a century. It was a quick growing small tree or large shrub and could grow in deep shade to full sun and liked to grow very much…..so much so it riled some government officials. The plant was placed on a death list…..not because it was weedy, but because it was weedy and ‘foreign’, an unAmerican kind of plant. Then there is creeping bellflower, Campanula rapunculoides, one of the worst garden weeds ever known to mankind. Yet, it is a ‘campanula’, a genus of countless colorful herbaceous plants. However, it is a vicious weed for it cannot remain in its ‘seat’.
So then, what is a weed? …… “A plant out of place”. That is it. That is all there is to the definition. Elm, maple, cottonwood seeds are all weeds when they seed ‘out of place’.
One of my favorite annuals is weedy, purple Oxalis. It has never been on the market for sale. Many perennials on the market, nearly any Lysamachia, Bloodroot, garden phlox, Euphorbia polychroma, Japanese anemone, and woodland poppy, even the colorful redbud and many hostas, are weedy where there is relatively open ground, that is, any soil relatively free from thick mats of growth.
Over the years I have removed nearly all lawn from my grounds. I like lawn when well manicured, both for its beauty and its comfort for walking. It has a demanding schedule which cannot be ignored. Lawn isn’t very intellectually or artistically demanding, however, unless you are trying to grow it in shade where it doesn’t want to be. You see one blade of grass, you’ve seen them all…..in the billions.
I’m a guy. I like the artistic landscape’s shapes and sizes, shadows and color, the open and the hidden, the smells and memories, being there. I love its art, turning the ugly into order with beauty, the nothing to something inspiring, the secrets of making something special from the mundane.
One of my favorite of all garden plants is the usually biennial herb, Angelica gigas. Now there is a plant, usually six to ten feet tall, that shows off its self confidence when grown well. “Here I am, folks. Aren’t I beautiful”, is written all over this herbaceous ego-maniac. Warning: When stalks are drying up, make certain you remove as many seed clusters as possible before you remove the stalk itself. You’ll know what I mean the next Spring if you fail to do this.
Some junipers grow six to ten or twenty inches tall but 20 feet or more in width…..and are spectacular when well maintained. The ones lower to the ground root again and again whenever their creeping stems ‘bump into’ topsoil.
I often am master of my landscape garden grounds. I probably have culled a thousand or more seedlings which have become weeds, that is, plants out of place. Yet, perhaps 100, 200 plants, perhaps 1,000 units in my half acre of garden room are plants I cherish which Nature itself has introduced to me…..often in magnificent artistic arrangement, and therefore, ‘in place’.
I have never planted bloodroot or thalictrum of any kind in my grounds, yet now they are beyond counting. I have perhaps over 50 Euphorbia polychroma and Goldsturm Rudbeckia weeding their way hither and thither usually beautifully arranged by Nature seeded each from a single plant. When, if ever, out of place, they become a weed.