Flowers or Weeds?

Flowers or Weeds?

Each spring I wrestle with the same decision: Should I give in and buy a lawnmower? Chances are this year the answer will once again be no. (In a month or two, I’ll be having the same struggle over air conditioners!)

As late winter melts into early spring, I look at the bleak brown mess in my yard and imagine lush green lawn. I forget about the heat and drought that comes in July and August. I forget how much I hate the noise and mess of a lawnmower.

And then I remember how much I love the wild ground cover that eventually emerges in my yard. I remember how shocked I was when I looked at the long list of weeds on a bottle of herbicide and saw my beloved wood violets listed. And I’m sure the ground ivy, purple henbit and several other plant species are there as well.

Another Way

Several years ago I bought a scythe when my previous lawnmower died. In the years since then the blade has dulled and I haven’t been able to face the task of hammering a new edge. My commitment to being green fights with an innate laziness.

So, as we get ready for Earth Day 2011, I’ve gotten out my scythe again, looked up the instructions on how to peen and hone the blade. I’m just about ready for another year of selective handmowing–sparing the plants that I love, clearing out the ones that grow to 7 ft and threaten to take over the yard if I let them go.

God’s Design

I was pleased to hear that my 4-year-old great-nephew is bringing his mother dandelions and calling them flowers. I’m ignoring my nephew’s chagrin at the “weeds” in his manicured lawn.

Whenever I need something to balance the shiny lawnmower ads from the home improvement stores, there’s always the cleverly imagined lawn-care conversation between God and St. Francis:

GOD: Frank, you know all about gardens and nature, what in the world is going on down there in the U.S.? What in the world happened to the dandelions, violets, thistles and the stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honey bees and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of color by now. All I see are patches of green.

ST. FRANCIS: It’s the tribes that settled there, Lord. They are called Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers “weeds” and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass.

Click here for the rest of the conversation.

Our special feature on Earth Day can be found here.

And check out Care for Creation by Sr. Ilia Delio, O.S.F., and the “Faith Goes Green” column in St. Anthony Messenger each month.


About the Author

Diane M. Houdek is Digital Editor for Franciscan Media as well as an editor in the book department. She is the author of Lent with St. Francis, Advent with St. Francis and Pope Francis and Our Call to Joy. She is an avid knitter and spinner and shares her home with four rambunctious dogs. Born and raised in Wisconsin, she has tried her hand at urban farming and a host of other pursuits and hobbies.
  • Anonymous

    This is a frequent topic of discussion in my home. One year–I can’t remember the reason–I didn’t mow my lawn until mid June (it really could have used a cutting in late April). An entire ecosystem sprung up: tall grasses, flowers, butterflies, dew-flecked spider webs, small mammals…it was beautiful.
    Then my wife made me cut it. Of course, once a snake crawled over me as I was lounging in my private Eden, I wasn’t all that opposed.

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