Espaliered tree


      The Twentieth Century, with its global trade and world wars and ubiquitous paranoia, brought with it not just new weeds, but new conceptions of what weeds might be, and do.  Weed anxiety took root.  The vagabond plants were seen not just as nuisances, but as actively dangerous.  They could invade cities, subvert civilized life . . .
      —Richard Mabey, Weeds: In Defense of Nature’s Most Unloved Plants

      We thrive where no other wants to be.  Where it's too dry, or too wet, or too cold or too warm.  We adapt.  We take root.  We take over.  We also thrive where you don't want us, and we multiply too quickly, take up too much space, take up too many resources, crowd out what is more valuable.  We are opportunists.
      We are hard to get rid of.  We mimic those around us, and so a few of us are left alone, and we carry on.  We can hide forever, waiting for the right time to find our way out, and then thrive again.  We are vigorous and aggressive.
      And we're not all bad.  In fact, we are loved in some places for our strength, our ability to compete, our mobility, adaptation and even beauty.  Loved so much, in fact, that we are brought to new places for a reason.  There, sometimes valued and sometimes maligned, we cannot win--we either thrive beyond expectations, creating nuisance, or we do not live up to our promise.  Invasive or ineffectual:  either way, we shoulder the blame, are called “vegetable rats,” “vegetable monsters,” “vegetable Rottweilers, vegetable albatrosses.”
      Laws are passed against us.  We are hunted down, pulled up, sprayed, flattened, uprooted, even bulldozed.  Not native, they say of us, though the earth claims all its citizens.  And because we are denizens of the earth, going forth and multiplying, we will always be with you, with our resilience, our optimism, our keen sense of survival. Like graffiti, we show up where you don’t want us. We are stalkers of humans.  We push up from anywhere and everywhere, even from your graves.

"Weeds" first appeared as "Weeds, Immigrants, and Other Aliens" in Seltzer







Compost heap

Asparagus stalk

Cross hatch garden

Datura blossom

Thistle flower

Garden shears

Dandelion seed head

Cracked earth



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