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Monday, August 18, 2014

OUR FRIENDS -- THE WEEDS



Large Piece of Turf 
1503 watercolor painting by Albrecht Durer

Since I was young I have always been fascinated by weeds. Their shapes, colors, textures, blooms, seeds, and habits were part of my interest in these warriors, survivors, and necessary purveyors of providing life for life.  

Born at the end of WWII, I was thrust into the newly emerging chemical war upon weeds. With the chemical tools of fighting one war, WWII, corporate America rolled over those chemical tools to fight a new war -- a war against weeds (and other wild life). Profits were its motive. 

These chemicals not only killed weeds, good and bad ones in one fell swoop, but also song birds, aquatic life, sickened humans, and fouled our water. 

We were sold a bill of goods about the chemicals.

Richard Mabey, a nature writer, a few years back wrote a book titled,  weeds -- in defense of nature's most unloved plants. He points out that weeds are essential to life and in our world's future might be all we have left in a much diminished natural planet. If you would like to visit his home page on Amazon click here 


21 comments:

  1. A very beautiful header photo!! And the Durer watercolor is beautiful an worth much study.

    You are so right about the chemicals and commerce, I'm a little surprised you didn't mention Rachel Carson who was the first to alert others to the danger. Now we have the genetically modified foods ... not for the benefit of the population but for the bottom line of industry.

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    1. June -- Oh, Rachel has her words on my sidebar. She is my her-o. Although the words do not mention her work on discovering the effects of toxic chemical on our natural world I perhaps assumed most folks were familiar with her work. Weeds alone have not gotten a good name due to corporate chemical companies. Weeds are important for the natural flourishing of our world -- they play invaluable roles. I feel we are in trouble with our food production worldwide as we have turned to GMOs as you mentioned. thanks June -- barbara

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  2. Living in a desert country where it is hard to get anything to grow and concern for the environment isn't on anyone's radar, I personally love weeds. I'm glad when anything grows. If it's green, it gets watered. If it flowers, even better. It boggles me that humans think they can control everything. They want to plant gardens in the open, but don't want deer and squirrels and rabbits or other critters of the wild to munch on them. Rather than letting pretty flowering weeds flourish, they kill them in order to make way for manicured flower beds that cost money. Just doesn't make much sense to me at all. :) Have a great week. Tammy

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    1. Tammy -- Wonderful that you love weeds. They are a necessary element to our survival. We are are all co-dependent in this world. I am not familiar with what grows naturally in and around desert areas like yours. I lived in the mountains of New Mexico one year and found the soil very thin (bedrock under it) but certain wildflowers (which are considered weeds by some) grew prolifically there. These wildflowers supported many indigenous wild critters.

      My Michigan cousin has a cottage in northern Michigan. I wrote a post about her cottage a while back. It supports your idea of sustainable living. Here is the link that I believe you will need to copy into your address box to read -- if you want. http://folkwaysnotebook.blogspot.com/2009/07/tradition-michigan-cottage-on-4th-of.html

      thanks Tammy for your insightful comment -- barbara

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  3. Any plant that's not wanted HERE is considered a weed, and therefore irradicated somehow. Grass in cracks in my driveway. Too much of something over there...growing beyond it's boundaries. I guess I prefer not having boundaries for things...but driveways would all turn to grass if it were allowed to continue...oh dear. Civilization vs wilderness. I also love your new portrait pic! You look lovely.

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    1. Barb -- Well, Barb is all I can say is read the WEEDS book by Richard Mabey. I think he might offer some new thoughts and insights to you about weeds and their importance to us in our environment. I think grass in your driveway would be nice but of course we all have different opinions. -- thanks -- barbara

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  4. My garden is very hospitable to weeds at the moment. I shall not be resorting to chemical weapons however, just a little physical eviction. If previous efforts are anything to go by there'll still be a viable population surviving till next year.

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    1. John -- Glad to hear about your hospitality! Thankfully you'll not be sending them on their way via chemicals. Of course they will be back next year -- they are survivors. And probably they will be visited by some some beautiful butterflies and helpful insects. Thanks -- barbara

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  5. This looks like a good book. Right up my alley. I will check it out!

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    1. Melissa -- Nice to hear that Mabey's book interests you. There is a whole world of living plants out there that we hardly know about and the chemical industry is trying to convince us we can live without them -- Thanks -- barbara

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  6. As a weed lover, you would find our yard enchanting! Most of our neighbors favor the Roundup approach, however, preferring sterile to messy.

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    1. Hattie -- When I lived in New Mexico I found my wild surrounding enchanting -- so many different wildflowers throughout the seasons -- and no one to dig them out or spray them to death. And so the wildlife thrived in this environment. All the wild ones worked together. I bet your yard is wonderful! -- barbara

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  7. A huge YUP on this. Saw it happen and now cancer is more than rampant in my opinion. Corporations and farming has been nothing but a negative and farmers are guilty as hell too because their eyes get $ in them signs and go round like the old gas pumps when it comes to making even more. Lost my respect for most these guy's some time ago.

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    1. One Fly -- I once asked a farmer if growing GMO seeds bothered his conscience -- and his reply was "not at all." So it goes all over this nation mono-cropping by farmers using GMO seeds that Mansanto is promoting. I too have no respect for any farmer that uses GMOs or chemicals on their crops. I'm with you on your comment -- barbara.

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  8. Yes, yes, yes. I also sing your song. We try to make earth our own and she will leave us holding nothing if we are not careful. One of the new herbicides has been found to keep its toxin in the cattle manure and goes on to kill the plants over which the manure is applied!!

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    1. Tabor -- We are heading down the wrong road that is for sure. I wish that I had the magic to stop all this madness. I just read that Mansanto provides 50 percent of the seeds around the world. Your point about the cattle manure is scary. Yesterday I saw a large apartment complex whose roofs were coated with a thick yellow gunk. When I asked a man who lived there what that was all about he said its to kill the moths. Yikes -- what else will that gunk kill! And why do they attack moths in such a heavy-handed way? thanks -- barbara

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  9. Yes, so true, so true. I grew up in suburbia where everything was mowed down or killed by chemicals. I think a lot of people still do use chemicals to "weed". I discovered weeds (herbaceous land plants) in a college class in Maine & I was in awe, like a child, seeing things for the 1st time. We pressed them so that we had a collection & I still delight today seeing wildflowers & wild plants in fields & woods. Those chemicals not only kill weeds, but they make me sick. I'm one of those folks who reacts allergically to chemicals. (& perfumes).

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  11. Rita -- Sounds like a fascinating class taught by an instructor that was a true naturalist. Today it seems like all the universities are "owned" by corporate America and push only profitable plants. How wonderful to press the "weeds" into collections. Last spring I was at a city park that does not spray and I counted many different weeds that gave great texture and patterns to just the area where I standing. I can understand how chemicals can make you sick. Hope you live in an area that uses no or very few chemicals. thanks for the very interesting comment --- barbara

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  12. I think weeds will outlive us all, no matter how hard we try to get rid of them. I think they are immune to disease that our plants, trees and flowers succumb to. I would love to have their secret to long life and survival :o)

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    1. Janet -- I do believe you are right -- they might outlive us all. I love that many have roots that pull underground water to the surface also that they provide food for many types of insects -- butterflies etc. I used to mulch my garden rows with the weeds I pulled. And I always pick interesting weeds as I dry them for fall bouquets. -- barbara

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