Thursday, April 7, 2016

Beauty In The Unexpected

by Cathy

Beauty doesn't always come in a manicured lawn or a spectacular flower garden. It can be found in the lowest of places. It can be found in the undesirable and troublesome plants that grow right under our noses; the lowly, sometimes hated WEED. In case you missed it, March 28th was Weed Appreciation Day. Not "weed" as in marijuana, but "weed" as in plants that are not valued where they are growing and are usually of vigorous growth.  Weed Appreciation Day is set aside to celebrate weeds and to learn something about them.

Did you know that there are about 250,000 plant species and about 8,000 are considered to be weeds? Weeds are very complex and fascinating plants. Quite a few have medicinal properties, many can be eaten, and they seem to have their own super powers over other plants. They grow in unwanted places, spread fast, and take over the desired plants.

Did you know that some weeds are actually beneficial to us and our ecosystem? Wildlife depends on weeds. Have you thought about what the birds are eating as they peck at the ground? They not only eat worms or insects, they eat weed seeds as well. Milkweed is food for the caterpillars of the Monarch butterfly. Bees make great honey from clover.

How many of you have childhood memories of finding the first dandelion, making a wish, and huffing and puffing until all the seeds were blown away by the wind like little parachutes? I remember holding them high in the air twirling around in circles and singing as the seeds blew away. I still blow on the dandelion puffs and occasionally you might find me twirling in circles and singing.

Dandelions are a great example of a useful weed. They are a food source of insects and certain birds. Dandelions attract ladybugs and who doesn’t want a few of those in their garden? You can eat young dandelion leaves and enjoy dandelion tea or wine. Native Americans used dandelions to treat certain ailments. They are a source of vitamin A and C, calcium, iron and fiber. I’m not advocating rushing out and eating weeds. I’d be a little hesitant to eat them myself. I’m just saying that they can be beneficial. They’re not all bad!

I live in the country where we don't have lawns, we have yards! In the spring in my yard you can find any number of weeds and I don't mind. They make the yard quite beautiful. It's always a little sad when the lawnmowers come out and the weeds are trimmed. 

Even though we’re a few days late celebrating the lowly weeds let’s get down on the ground, get our knees dirty, look for them, and appreciate their beauty and usefulness. I understand you may live where weeds are forbidden, but head to a park or take a walk and see what you can find. Take a picture and share your finds with us in the FOL Flickr gallery. We’d love to see them.

I hope you find a dandelion.
I hope you make a wish.
I hope your wish comes true.


AFishGirl said...

Lovely shots, Cathy. My yard is like your yard. Full of natural things. I think my husband one year photographed and counted and there are something like 108 wildflower plans (aka weeds) in my back yard. Yesterday the bald eagle was back too, but I was too late running for my lens (Dotti! Read this!). I need to keep it right beside the window. Happy Thursday, FOLers.

kelly said...

I live in the city and have a 'lawn'. So when we go to the lake, I can totally geek out on all the weeds/wildflowers. There is something so magical and delightful about seeing spring in its natural state! :)

JUDITH said...

I always learn something when I read your blog. You have inspired me to get on my knees and look at these weeds in a different light, light and my camera.

terriporter said...

Oh, yes, there is so much beauty to be found in weeds and as Pam said, wildflowers are actually weeks and we all love them! We have a "lawn" too but don't have to go far to find weeds. One of my favorites is the Mexican Primrose. I love their pink flowers in the spring and they even sell them at nurseries, but with a warning that they are actually weeds and can take over a landscape. Love them anyway!

Dotti said...

Unexpected beauty is always a treat! There have often been times when we've been in the garden, particularly in spring, when the perennials are not yet well-defined and I ask my husband, 'Is this a weed or a flower?' because I find something pretty. Usually it's a weed and his gardener's hands have to pull it so I have to be quick on the draw to take a photo. But wildflowers are a joy unto themselves. Lovely post and great reminder to keep our eyes open and cameras ready for unexpected beauty.

Lisa said...

You managed to make what is typically a nuisance look beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Weeds are among my many butterflies, caterpillars, dragonflies and so much more that thrive in the weeds! Getting down to the ants level is a whole new world of beauty! Dandelions are so beautiful...I call them dancing fairies! Your photos are beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

I love weeds in spring, as they often seem to be the first plants to come to life. They are less appreciated later in the season, when they want to overtake and crowd out the garden flowers! Since I have no garden now, I appreciate the wild plants I come across all the more. Wonderful photos, Cathy!

Sarah Huizenga said...

I am a huge fan of weeds, especially dried up weeds, they are lovely to photograph.

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