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Tangled Up in the Weeds

Tangled Up in the Weeds

According to Wikipedia; A weed is a plant considered undesirable in a particular situation, "a plant in the wrong place". The term "weed" has no botanical significance, because a plant that is a weed in one context is not a weed when growing in a situation where it is in fact wanted, and where one species of plant is a valuable crop plant, another species in the same genus might be a serious weed. The term weed also is applied to any plant that grows or reproduces aggressively, or is invasive outside its native habitat.
 
I have recently been fascinated with weeds. Maybe it is because I visit my Mom’s house often, where there is no distinction between weed and purposeful planting. This magical yard could be the ultimate retirement home for “so called” weeds. There is no discrimination of which plants should live in this yard. All are welcome. It is, shall we say controlled chaos of all kinds of plants and mosses all spreading themselves out freely. Some of this collection was planted over the years and birds or the wind is perhaps to thank for contributing some of it. This very different type of yard fits the house and the people who live there and adds to its charm. And visiting it often does make me wonder about weeds.
 
Why it is that one plant can be considered a weed and another not? Or even more curious how can one plant be labeled as a weed if it grows in one place but not another. Who decides which plants are called weeds? And who decides which plants are deemed beautiful or beneficial in one place and not in another. I can understand shaping and sculpting gardens but it is not a little funny how we work tirelessly to keep one flower alive in certain place and then go out of our way to get rid of them in another place. I love Dandelions and Queens Ann’s Lace. I love how they appear in strange places like stonewalls and cracks in sidewalks and concrete. How inspiring that a dandelion can surprise us with bright yellow flowers and can grow with such vigor with such little support. Dandelions have all sorts of medicinal and herbal uses and are 100% edible, yet so many try to rid their yards of them.
 
One of the most recognizable Zentangle patterns we use was indeed inspired by a weed, (I mean plant) that grows here in New England. It is known by a few names such as Pokeroot, Pokeberry or Pokeweed. I find them to be quite amazing in appearance. Their beautiful purple berries are mesmerizing and their ability to grow almost overnight is fascinating. And although the plant itself can be poisonous it also has medicinal benefits if used specifically. What alluring properties for something that can grow with almost no soil. Last year one of the most spectacular pokeroot plants appeared in my Mom and Rick’s front yard. Bursting through a space between the sidewalk and the driveway. It of course was welcomed with praise and offered a permanent home with other plants formally known as weeds.


 
This year I have been watching as we approach summer to see if the giant pokeroot will return to my Mom and Rick’s yard for us all to enjoy again. I started to look in other parts of the yard and smiled to myself because I realized that their whole yard was much like a Zentangle. The subtle suggestion of pathways and walls lay down like a string and each spring begins a new season of getting covered by wild growth. Each species weaving its way this way and that revealing beautiful blossoms and fruits. The collection of different plants covers spaces enthusiastically knowing that their life on this land is free and unrestricted just like tangles on a tile. There are no rules for these tangled masterpieces here and each plant is deeply routed like black ink proudly bearing its unique style. This garden celebrates the beauty in the not so common, sees splendor in the personality of things, and illuminates the not so perfect. If I were weed I cannot imagine a more beautiful place to grow up.


 
Enjoy, water and nurture all the seeds in your tangled garden. Embrace what they become and remember to look for beauty as they grow… no matter how tangled up it gets. Because when you truly look for beauty … you will see it.

Molly Hollibaugh

33 comments

  • A friend of mine who is a master gardener, told me that a weed is just a plant that you may not like in a specific spot in your garden. So now I think of those wise words and leave plants grow if I like the way they look in my yard!

    Jane FRanco, CZT34 on

  • This beautiful weed with large green leaves and ruby red hanging berries is a weed coming from the “Night Shade” family. We took photos to our local nurseryman and he gave us this info. As it is quite lovely we decided to leave it to grow. It grows long tuberous roots which result in a multitude of new plants as we live and breathe!!! It is, though, a lovely privacy fence for our back yard!!! I, too, am loving the peacefulness and charm of sitting down each evening, rewarding myself with time to “be the artist I’ve always wanted to be.” Drawing has never been my forté!!!! I feel, with this, there is hope for me yet!!! ♥️

    marym saldana on

  • I really enjoy your writing. This year I decided that I would garden my way which has led to numerous people telling me my garden is infested with weeds. However, to me they are beautiful and the honey bees certainly like them.

    Noilin Dempsey on

  • What a lovely post. I too love dandilions. They are one of the first flowers to appear in the spring here in Illinois. I had a rule in my house no one could cut the grass until the dandilions were in seed. I see tangles every where. In buildings,in clothing, in flowers and paintings. Just everywhere. Thank you for making my day beautiful.

    Linda Mensching on

  • The pokeroot is very common here in Eastern North Carolina. I used the berries to color tiles last summer, and then used a white Gelly Roll to tangle. Enjoy the weeds. I do!

    Terry Scott on

  • Receiving your blog for the first time this am. Enjoying coffee in my little “spot” on earth, contemplating what I want to plant next, opened my mail and there you were! Appreciate all the perspectives and thoughts of fellow nature lovers. The moon was dramatic last nite in my part of the world. Mr. Crow is speaking as the sun makes his feathers glow. Songbirds are giving me a melody. And God is good. All the time. I am blessed. Who ever reads this be blessed also.

    Paula Johnson on

  • Receiving your blog is a nice start to my morning. Having coffee in my little garden. Contemplating planting some marygolds.

    Paula Johnson on

  • My husband calls those plants “volunteers” and does not pull them. He will love this blog. Thank you Molly.

    Mary Lou Minard on

  • What a wonderful impression on ‘weeds’ :0) It all is about perspective isn’t it! In my opinion all nature things are beautiful and impressive and magically orchestred. Love from my holiday place in Spain where there are lots of beautiful weeds 💚

    Karin Godyns, CZT20, Belgium on

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    Young Wendy E. on

  • Oh Molly, like you I always wondered why a weed is a weed. So many beautiful plants are never really looked at, because of the word ‘weed’. Love this post of yours!!!

    Annemarie on

  • I love this !!! I am not much of a pruner and “weeder”, so my yard is pretty much “as is” 🤣🤣

    I especially enjoy the back easement of my house..I love to let that section grow completely Wild !!! The plants that grow there remind me of what was so readily available to pick and make up a “bouquet” for mother when I was little.. Fond memories..😃😃 🌿🌻🌼

    Sharon Jerkovic on

  • Where I Iive, in the high mountains of Colorado, dandelions are a harbinger of summer that I always welcome to my yard. We watch them bloom at the lower elevations and then move up the mountainsides as summer progresses. Thanks for the reminder that whether some flower is a weed or not all depends on your perspective! Thank you, Molly!

    Leslie Hancock on

  • A new entrant here, I am fascinated by the poetry in your tangles. And here I find poetry oozing out of your words. Brilliant write up accompanied with great pics

    Neera on

  • My daughter and my husband make the front yard look really beautiful with roses, hydrangeas, bird of paradise, and ginger. One plant is left for me. It is a weed. But, as I love it, it stays. I m happy to see it bloom every year

    Lisa Hoesing on

  • Hello From Illinois!

    You have given me hope for my yard. I was just today admiring the flora growing in my front yard. Most of it self sown growths of wonder. Weeds?? Surely not. I have not pulled weeds in such a long time. Now they have turned into wonderous floral centerpieces complete with beautiful blooms. I dare not pull them from the earth. Great to know I am not alone and in the good company of Rick, Maria and the home of Zentangle. Awesome discovery. You have opened my eyes to wonderous things in the past, Molly. Thank You for opening them yet again. I hope a poke root makes an appearance.

    Victoria Smith CZT29 on

  • Molly this is amazing how you mix poetry, nature and tangles with such simple and beautiful words. You gave us tons of ideas with this “weed” concept. Thanks Again muchas gracias Molly I love you!

    Sylvia on

  • Loved your article and the photos. Thank you for sharing.

    Linda Lusk on

  • Beautiful pictures, and pictures painted with words, also. I look forward to my new home and the wonders of the garden. I’ll never have my mother’s green thumb, but hope to keep things from overtaking the neighborhood!

    Ginger White on

  • What lovely, welcoming thoughts, Molly! Thank you for brightening my afternoon…
    Sara

    Sara Harding, CZT 12 on

  • I love this article. Having moved into a new home this year in a new climate for me, I had no idea what was growing in my yard. It is an adventure watching and letting them grow when I am sure some are called weeds by others. Kind of like beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

    Pat Mathes CZT15 on

  • Molly,

    You are a beautiful writer! (and thinker and person).

    Kimberly C Winebrenner on

  • I was told by a botanist that a “weed” is simply a plant that re-seeds itself.

    Deborah Alborell on

  • I love this post, beautiful thoughts and a fertile garden. Peace ☮️

    Miriam HIPster on

  • I loved you musings about weeds Molly, and what we choose to nurture in our gardens. I like that airplants are free to grow in Rick and Maria’s yard! If I did that in my garden here in Southern Oregon there would be no room for the humans!

    Jan on

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