Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Weeding the Garden of Eden

Is it a Tree? Is it a Bush?

     I'm most impressed as a townie moving to the country by the mass of plant life that surrounds me. Everywhere I go I'm surrounded by lush greenery and plants of every description.

     I looked out of my window the other day and saw that my driveway is succumbing to this natural energy too! 'Weeds!' I thought. I have a gravel drive. It isn't very deep and under the few inches of gravel there's a hard concrete base. The amount of rain we have gives weeds plenty of opportunity to develop roots, even on this harsh surface.

     As I pondered whether I should put weed killer down I started to think about the implications of killing off all these plants. It occurred to me that not everything can be categorized so easily. As I started to discuss it with people I realized that one man's weed is another man's natural beauty.

More than One Way to Kill a Cat

     The first thing someone said to me was that putting 'poison' down (as they call weed killer in these parts) is really destructive to the wildlife. Cats and many other creatures are naturally curious animals that get themselves into all kinds of fbother unintentionally.

     Look at the bigger picture, however, there are fixes they create and there are fixes we create. I think the ones we create are harder to escape from. Certainly, putting down poison on plants that cats usually like to investigate and sometimes even eat is asking for trouble. I was even more convinced of this point when I bought a couple of bottles of weedkiller. Reading the instructions on the back warned not to let any domestic pets out for 48 hours! As I didn't want to poison my cat I ruled this one out and got a refund.

Herbacious Borders

     If I was to start listing the plants I see regularly it would probably fill several notebooks. Everywhere I look is green and lush. Every path and field is adorned with a mass of plant life.

     Once I start to recognize the plants (not their names, you understand, just the plants) and familiarize myself with their flowers and leaves, I recognize those same plants in my own garden.

    The garden is just a continuation of the lush plant life that overruns the whole of the countryside. I enjoy all the flowers so much when I walk out in the mountains. Even the common weeds such as the dandelions and thistles take on a beauty that's hard to deny.

     It was a conversation like this that prompted me to think of my own driveway and garden differently.

The Garden of Eden and Natural Order

     My garden is pretty idyllic. My neighbour's garden is also pretty idyllic. The difference is that I moved in here about a year ago and the place had been weeded and preened to perfection to show it off at its best. My neighbour's garden also looks perfect but it's far from preened or weeded. He explained to me that he let it go back to nature after several attempts to weed his long and winding driveway. Now it's lush and green, carpeted with all manner of plants.

     It went through a stage where it looked like the plants were unkempt and growing wild. Now it has its own system that keeps things in the right place and at the right level. As my neighbour drives his 4 x 4 down the drive most days there are two neat little ruts that add to the charm.


     Having contemplated this for a while I've reached a place where I'm no longer bothered by the plants that fight to survive on my gravel drive. In fact, they're welcome to grow there. Instead of resenting their appearance I now sit quietly and gaze upon their delicate beauty.

     It's been a great exercise in practising non-resistance. Even though the drive is still in a state of flux - there's some kind of struggle for balance going on between the dandelions and other exotic grasses - I have full confidence that Nature will take control. It's one less thing for me to worry about, anyway.