"A weed by any other name : the virtues of a messy lawn, or, learning to love the plants we don't plant" by Nancy Gift

by MediaPhile@evpl on Thursday, August 6 2009, 9:46am. Viewed 1,054 times.

weeds by any other name

I recall a gardening workshop where I posed a question having to do with lawns.   The speaker asked what kind of grass I had and I replied "weedy grass."  The audience laughed, but it was a serious reply.  That was the only kind of grass I knew growing up and it is the same kind of grass I have now, so rest assured I was delighted with this book.

A blog post self-describes Dr. Gift as "an assistant professor of environmental studies and acting director of the Rachel Carson Institute at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she lives with her husband, two daughters, and a lawn full of weeds."  I love it!

Each chapter focuses on the pluses and minuses of the various "weeds" that creep into our yards -- violets, dandelions, morning glory, etc.  You won't be able to finish this short book without wondering whether you really need commercial spraying of noxious chemicals to maintain a perfect monocultural lawn -- one that doesn't contribute to the viability of insects, birds, or any other life (including that of barefoot kids). 

p.s. when you read about the intensive spraying done on golf courses, you might decide to switch to a different sport.


Comments (2)

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on Wednesday, August 12 2009, 8:27pm

I too have a lawn full of weedy grass --- two acres of it! My husband always enjoys telling neighbors who are trying to control their dandelions how pretty he thinks they are. I also grew up with the same kind of lawn and am not bothered by it at all. It looks just fine to us when it's mowed.

gawell@evpl wrote
on Wednesday, August 26 2009, 1:26pm

Professor Richard C. Lewontin of Harvard University defines weeds as plants that create environmental conditions in which it cannot reproduce. He takes the example of pine trees that crowd out sunlight such that its own offspring cannot grow. Weeds continue to exist, because the environment is continually being disturbed to create open conditions for new generations, such as forest fires and human activity.

The term weed in its general sense is a subjective one, without any classification value, since a "weed" is not a weed when growing where it belongs or is wanted.