I spend too much time with the plan. Which is why the things I should have done in the cooler mornings of March are now being done on hot August and September days. The evidence is the garden in front of my house.

The weeds have taken over. Tufts of grass have spread and swelled over the smaller ornamental plants on the near edges. Ivy has taken over the hollies – can’t tell where one begins and the other ends. Two of the plants, choked by the competition for water and sunlight, have simply passed away. Small trees, which should have blossomed out like the gowns of dervishes, have simply grown straight up, spindly fingers picking at the edge of the asphalt tiled roof.

So down on my knees, gloved and armed, I went to work to clear a path for the indigenous plants and remove the invaders. The trees will have to wait though – my neighbor, who has raised fruit trees and shared the bounty, has advised me to wait until the trees have gone to sleep for the winter. He said to cut the boughs now would be as if I’d broken an arm – and he showed me the violence by chopping down on his forearm with the knife-edge of his hand. Best to wait until the leaves have fallen and the boughs anesthetized by the cold of winter.

But there are times when I won’t pull the weed out of the ground. By the telephone pole at the curb, at its base, a spindly weed has popped out of the ground, hugging the dried out wood. At the tip of each sinewy digit is a small yellow blossom, a bit of color at the end of a rather indistinct plant. If something is going to try that hard, I’m just going to leave it alone.

I’ve also been known to take samples of invasive ivy and plant it in places that needed softening, trying as hard as I can not to mangle to root while placing it deep into the ground. It doesn’t always survive – weeds grow in certain places because that’s where they belong.

Someone once said to me that a weed is just something growing where you don’t want it to be. Something out-of-place. Which made me think of writing and how we edit our words and phrases from simple emails to clients to the occasional act of prose or poetry.

Writing and weeding are not that much different. There are times we swing the blade widely cutting with a force bordering on violence – and there are other times when we work surgically with a finer tool carefully extracting the word or the phrase without disturbing the surrounding growth. There are other times when the weed is so entangled, that we have to take bits of the healthy plant with it.

But then there’s the outlier – the one that just has a bit of color worth saving and revisiting. That one maybe we’ll leave and nurture it a bit. Or maybe lift it to plant in a different bed and build a different garden around it.

So a weed isn’t always a weed. It’s just something that doesn’t belong where it is. But with time, attention and the room to grow, it can become something more…as well as the garden where you found it…

Detail from Orange Garden Quartet Set
© Ten Two Studios

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