|Pokeweed hiding in the raspberries
I do my best thinking when I am on my knees in my garden, perhaps with my head stuck under the grape arbor, pulling out all manner of thistles, grasses, pokeweeds, mulberry tree seedlings and redbud seedlings.
Redbud seedlings are especially prolific in my garden.
It is almost the third anniversary of the hot, sultry, windless summer day when the redbud tree, which offered the only shade suitable for some rescued woodland plants, inexplicably fell over when I was hundreds of miles away, just getting ready to wet my toes in the Atlantic Ocean. From then on, that garden border, with woodland plants but no shade, has been dubbed Woodland Follies.
Now every time I weed out redbud seedlings, and I have pulled out hundreds of them over the last three years, if not thousands, I wonder if somehow the mother tree passed along a message to her seeds, some powerful instructions to germinate and grow as quickly as possibly because the mother tree knew she was dying and would one day, on a hot, sultry, windless day, just fall over. The mother redbud tree knew she needed replacements, and gave her seeds the power to last for years in my garden, germinating in waves, year after year.
It was while kneeling under the grape arbor one evening that I had this thought and a revelation about weeds and gardeners.
I realized all gardeners are delusional and that is why year after year, season after season, we continue to hope and believe, in spite of evidence to the contrary, that if we just keep pulling out weeds and cutting back unwanted redbud and mulberry tree seedlings, they will all get the message and leave our gardens alone.
So why isn’t the message to stay out of our gardens embedded in the weed seeds’ DNA? “Don’t bother growing within this fenced in area. The gardener will find you and pull you out. Get out beyond the fence or forget about it.” But that has not yet happened, or if it has happened, the weed seeds are ignoring the message.
I continue to pull weeds.
I rarely get all the roots, but when I think I have, I hold the weed with its fully intact roots up high, ever so briefly, to commemorate my victory, and then I throw it unceremoniously into the tub and move on. There’s a weed that will never sully my garden again!
Sometimes, though, when I am most delusional, I simply keep cutting back the weeds, weeds like nutsedge. I use my weed whacker, intent on wearing the weeds out. How often can they come back from those roots?
Quite often it seems.
I bury purslane with a sharp swipe of my hoe, knowing it will just root again and spring up even healthier and thicker than before. I know that’s what will happen, because it always happens, but yet, somehow…
If the definition of delusional is knowing something is true but then ignoring that truth and coming up with one’s own version of what is true, then I am guilty of such in my garden when I think about weeds.
But if I, or any gardener, were other than delusional when it comes to weeds, if we did not believe we could win the battle against them, then we would have long ago thrown down our dandelion diggers, yanked off our gardening gloves and gone inside, out of the sun and humidity, away from the mosquitoes and ticks, and taken up some other hobby, like painting on china plates.
Yet, we aren’t painting on china plates. We are still weeding. We are still gardening.
The reason? I can only think it is because we must be delusional or we would never garden at all.