Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Weed or Flower?

Spent yesterday morning in town, waiting to see the doctor. When I got home, I walked around the yard, mostly to note what garden work had to be done (a lot). As I walked I noticed a few things blooming:
Like this one--is it a groundcover or a weed? It's so pretty the way it edges between my herb garden's stone wall and the sidewalk. Gill-Over-the-Ground is it's name, and it certainly is all over the ground. It has other names too--ground ivy, Creeping Charlie, and my mother jokingly called it Johnny-run-through-the hedges. This little plant literally takes over my flowerbeds. Mulching helps only in that it's easier to pull the vines out. Did I pull this one out? Uh--no. It's just too pretty right where it is. I'll be sorry for my softheartedness later when it invades the herb garden. I'm not the only one with ambivalent feelings about this plant.

Apparently it was brought to America by early settlers and was grown as a medicinal herb. It was grown in containers and it would trail prettily over the edges. I've used it that way myself, actually.

Then this lovely pale-blue violet. These are called dog violets, but that seems an ugly name for a pretty plant. Later in the spring I usually have some white stemmed violets in the lawn, if Larry lets it get a litte high before mowing. Violet leaves make an excellent addtion to spring salads.

Purple Archangel (I prefer this to the more official name Purple Deadnettle) shows up in my flower and vegetable gardens every year. According to some websites, it has medicinal properties and is edible. I've not tried it myself, but I often pick it to use in flower arrangements because it can be really pretty.

Another violet, this one is cosying up to Purple Coneflower seedlings. One reason I hold off on mulching in the spring is the free plants I get from natural seedings. These usually include coneflower, lamb's ears, bergamot, marigolds, cleome, dill, caraway, and others. The downside is that weeds get a firmer foothold, but I think the free plants are worth it.

And of course, the dandelion (or dent de lion, tooth of the lion). There is a lovely story that explains why the dandelion is all over our lawns. Dandelions make a good wine, I'm told, although it takes gallons of flowers to do the job. Charles Hodgson gives a lot of interesting information on the background of the dandelion on his website. I like the new leaves in spring salad.

So--weeds or flowers? Friends or foe? Although I may yank them from my gardens, I'll keep these little flowers on my list of friends.


City Mouse said...

That is so pretty the way the first one edges the stones! I say "flower!" It's only a weed if you don't want it. Heck, I could do with a few more weeds like that one.

Granny Sue said...

I hear you! Violets are the same way here. They get so thick in my flowerbeds that I have to pull them by wheelbarrowloads if I don't keep on top of them. I don't like pulling them, but I don't want my other stuff choked out.

Grand Life said...

I agree with city mouse. I kill the dandelions in my city house but at the cabin I cultivate them. I stop just short of fertilizing them but they seem to do fine without it. I love them among the daffodils and the grandkids pick bouquets of them and someone gave me a recipe for dandelion jelly. Great post. Thanks for sharing. Judy

La, Storyteller/Storysinger said...

I love Dandelions! I know others hate them but I think they're beautiful. I am always on the look out for Dandelion legends and lore. They are definitely my friends.
Love,Laughter,Peace and Blessings to you! La

Granny Sue said...

It's good to know that there are others who enjoy the wildlings as much as the cultivated plants. La, do you know the Nasruddin story about dandelions? you can find it here:

As usual, the Hodja's wisdom shines through.

TSannie said...

I do believe your "dog violet" is actually called a "confederate violet" - a much better name I think - and one of my very favorite flowers! Go to:

They're all flowers to me!

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