29 January 2012

Wait, Weeding IS Gardening

I'll never forget talking one day with a well-known local landscape designer when he said something to the effect that he didn't think of it as "weeding" but as "gardening." Ignoring the fact that we were at that moment watching his gardener weed, I still thought it was a great idea, philosophically. And the next time I found myself weeding, I definitely had that thought running through my mind.

You know, he's right. If gardening is indeed about tending to the earth, part of that is about plucking and preening.

Weeding is a bit like exercising - once you get started it's actually really great but it's the getting started that can be hard sometimes. The process of weeding brings you into intimate contact with your garden and all of its goings-on.

You are basically forced to plop yourself in one place for a while on your hands and knees, poking and pulling at weeds. And part of that process is distinguishing unwanted plants from those you like. You get to see things you might have tra-la-la-ed past if you weren't looking closely.

Yesterday was a beautiful, sunny crisp day in Austin, and it was high time to try to control this awful cool season grass that invades our gardens.

While I was pulling that stuff up (for hours), I discovered that the Mexican plum (Prunus mexicana) has sent up a runner. Mexican plums are wonderful ornamental trees, but in the wild they form thickets. I never expected to see mine try to get to it's natural state. I also found a juniper seedling undoubtedly dropped by a bird.

I listened to a flock of cedar waxwings alight in the bare pecan branches overhead, squeak for a time and then flutter off to their next destination.

Gardening is more than just the planting of plants and the quaint snipping of flowers here and there. It's getting your hands dirty and muscles sore. It's listening and watching and smelling. It's slowing down to observe. It's fabulous.


The Curious Holts said...

SO true. I, over the years at this house, have become so tuned in to the birds and squirrels that live in my yard. I now have a squirrel that will plunder and poke right beside me while I weed! Magical. Love the concept that weeding IS gardening.

Pam/Digging said...

Great post, Lee.

My old Mexican plum used to seed out like crazy. Every one of the plums, I swear, sprouted up. I never knew it to thicket though. How interesting that yours does. I loved that old tree and need to find room for another one.

Kat said...

Yep, you're absolutely right! I was 'gardeing' last weekend pulling out the prickly pokey stiff weeds, and being so close to the ground, I saw the teeniest little blue flowers on a weedy looking ground cover. They were everywhere and so dainty and beautiful. I wonder what they are....