"A weed is but an unloved flower."
--- Ella Wilcox
I'm sorry, Ella Wilcox. But I'm afraid I simply can't agree with you there.
Some weeds do provide nice enough flowers.
And they are pretty much universally unloved.
But your quote, Ella, implies that we should just . . . love them or something.
And I'm afraid I can't.
I mean . . . I play things pretty fast and loose in my garden. I'm rather haphazard in my approach. Volunteers? Sure! Let's see what they do. Self-seeders? Always welcome in my garden. "Experimental" plantings? I'm up for it. (Except for almost any ground cover. Ground covers are in a category of "weed" all their own . . .) (Just ask anyone trying to rid themselves of, oh . . . Snow-on-the-Mountain, for example.)
But weeds? They are not simply "unloved flowers." Left on their own, a lot of weeds can overtake the "loved flowers" in a garden. They can choke off plants you do want. A lot of the time? The "unloved flowers" are unloved for a reason. (Poison ivy, for example. Or insidious, spreading weeds that have what the garden manuals call "insignificant blooms" so they're not even pretty.)
Lucky for me, I find pulling weeds rather soothing and meditative. (Mostly.) Sometimes, though, like now during the spring-garden-explosion, it can be hard to keep up.
I like this weed-y quote much better . . .
"Weeds never die."
--- Danish proverb
That weed right there? It's hairy bittercress. And it is the current Public Enemy #1 in my garden. It's everywhere. And it spreads by shooting amazingly tiny yet powerful seeds in all directions (kind of like fireworks; very impressive) when you barely touch it. I try to get at 'em before they form seeds -- but that window of opportunity lasts about . . . oh, 2 minutes. So I'm often not successful in controlling the seeding.
This one . . . is vetch. As in makes-me-want-to-retch. This one is more charming to look at than the hairy bittercress. The leaves are delicate, and there are will be sweet little pink flowers very soon. (If I let it get that far.) (And I won't.) The problem? It vines and twines everywhere, and will completely cover my garden bed if I give it a chance! (Some misguided neighbors actually planted it just down the street, so the entire neighborhood struggles with it now.) (And don't get me started about my former neighbors who were too cheap to purchase garden plants, and instead chose to allow bind weed -- YES BIND WEED -- to grow as a vine to cover their swimming pool fence. It's like kudzu over there now. I even see it growing over their diving board . . . )
Other garden "favorites"? Various forms of chickweed (from Common to Mouseear) thrive in my garden. I have clover forever (it likes to hitch along in the containers of most nursery plants I bring home, so I'll never rid myself of it). Lots of purple deadnettle. Canada thistle. Henbit. Mugwort.
Lots. Of. Unloved. Flowers.
My weeds keep me busy, all season long. Like the Danish proverb says . . . weeds never die.
Even though I complain about my weeds . . . I do appreciate their perserverance and ability to adapt. The bees depend on them for nectar - and especially in the spring before the actual "loved flowers" start to bloom. So I make space in my garden for the weeds, too. (Because what other choice do I have???) I try to keep them under control as best I can by pulling them. And I let go of perfection.
(Except for the poison ivy. And the vetch. And that hairy bittercress.)
(Oh. And that bindweed that creeps under the fence. . . )
"You fight dandelions all weekend, and late Monday afternoon there they are, pert as all get out, in full and gorgeous bloom, pretty as can be, thriving as only dandelions can in the face of adversity."
--- Hal Borland