Weed or wildflower? (HLD 141)

10 Aug 2020

I remember a while ago posting some photos on Facebook of flowers taken during a bush walk. A comment was made by someone, much more well versed in the area of horticulture than me, that one of my pretty flowers was, in actual fact, a weed.

As I was driving today on a cold wet and windy day, I drove past a batch of gorgeous yellow flowers and my face lit up with a smile.

They were, of course, dandelions, and the owner of the house is probably mortified that their lack of weed control is so obvious to passers-by.

What makes a weed a weed? Why is a wildflower not a weed?

My Google friend tells me that what makes a weed a weed is that a weed is an unplanned plant such as a dandelion. Even a useful plant is a weed if it comes up in the wrong place but most weeds are plants that have no use to humans and interfere in some way with human intentions.

I absolutely love everlasting daisies. To see them in the wild on a country drive specifically with the intention of looking at wildflowers, is the best way of seeing them. City dwellers tend to see them in botanical gardens or on verges, planted out by the local councils. Our council plants them each year by the river car parks and they are beautiful.

Are the ones in the countryside by definition, weeds? Why do we search them out on wildflower trips? I guess one persons wildflower is another persons weed.

Should weeds be instead defined as plants that don’t have pretty coloured flowers?

Invasive plants are generally weeds, as they cause gardeners troubles – I can understand that. Weeds take away resources from the plants you want in your garden. Got it. But anyone who has had to deal with couch grass runners invading everything will know there’s a fine line between a beautifully tended green lawn and something that you can not – ever – remove.

I’m also fully on board with identifying plants with annoying prickles as weeds. Unless it’s a bougainvillea, of course. They’re pretty. Or blackberries. They’re yummy.

I suppose the reality is that a weed is in the eye of the beholder, like a lot of things in life. One person’s glorious field of wildflowers is another’s field of weeds impacting the soil they want to grow crops in.

One persons beautiful view of sunny yellow bouncing flowers is another’s visible display of weeds.

Wildflower or weed, if it makes you happy, it’s a happy flower.

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