A Weed by Any Other Name: The Virtues of a Messy Lawn, or by Nancy Gift

By Nancy Gift

Is weed? this question, requested via an individual who has ever gardened or mowed a garden, doesn't have a simple resolution. finally, a weed, as suburban mom weed scientist Nancy reward reminds readers, is just a plant misplaced. In A Weed by way of the other identify, reward deals a private, unapologetic protection of clovers, dandelions, plantains, and extra, chronicling her event with those "enemy" crops season by way of season. instead of falling prey to pressures to accomplish the suitable garden and backyard, present elucidates the various purposes to include an unconventional, weedy backyard. She celebrates the spots of wildness that crop up in a number of corners of suburbia, redeeming many a plant's attractiveness via expounding on its optimistic characteristics. She contains recipes for dandelion wine and garlic mustard pesto in addition to sketches that exhibit the normal fantastic thing about plants equivalent to the morning glory, categorized by means of the USDA as an invasive and noxious weed. even supposing she is an suggest of weeds, present admits that a few crops do require eradication-she fortunately digs out multiflora rose and lodges to chemical conflict on poison ivy. yet she additionally demonstrates that weeds usually hold a message for us concerning the land and our therapy of it, if we're prepared to hear.

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Additional resources for A Weed by Any Other Name: The Virtues of a Messy Lawn, or Learning to Love the Plants We Don't Plant

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This rabbit was, in all likelihood, one of those who lived under our shed last year, and one whose parents we had watched happily many evenings at silflay, a word the girls learned when I read Watership Down aloud during a long car trip. Rabbits are most active in early morning and just before sunset, and much of their grazing, called silflay, happens at these times of day. In Watership Down, silflay is when most of the action and rabbit conversation happens. When we watched our rabbits in the evening, it was easy to imagine the possible lapin dramas unfolding, seemingly mute, before us.

I am trying to accept that the violets are solving my need for perennials-on-a- budget. In any case, the annuals aren’t happy there, so the violets 38 a w e e d b y a n y o t h e r na m e are also forcing me to pay attention. If I’m not smart enough to plant the right plant in the right place, I can count on a weed to give me a better suggestion. Many weeds indicate soil problems. Crabgrass, as I will discuss later, can indicate that a soil has been compacted; tall clumps of spiky, tan broom sedge indicate poor soil nutrition; broad, reddishtinged leaves of dock can indicate acid soil—but violets simply indicate shade.

Our desire to have the girls witness the bird nest was a constant conflict with our desire not to disturb them. A flashy iridescent-green hummingbird visits a lovely tubular red flower, Crocosmia, in our front garden in August. The woodpeckers enjoy our suet and then foray into nearby woods to hammer insects from dying ash trees. The weeds, too, are part of the diversity of food for wildlife. Many of the grasses—foxtails, crabgrasses—provide seeds eaten by a number of birds and small mammals, as do the smaller knotweed cousins (Pennsylvania smartweed and lady’s thumb); lamb’s-quarters with squarish, silvery green leaves (Chenopodium); pigweed, with s p r i n g : Foxtails and Chickens 2 7 its prickly seed head and juicy leaves (Amaranthus); purple-tinged pokeweed (Phytolacca americana); the clover look-alike wood sorrel (Oxalis); chickweed (Stellaria media, to be discussed at length later); various wild mustards; and my beloved hawkweeds, dandelion, and clover.

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