Friday, January 10, 2014


The gardener came Wednesday and in a few hours he had it looking tidier, dead flowers and straggly shoots cut, bushes trimmed, backyard grass mowed. I always gently suggest that he pull a few weeds, but caution is needed because I learned that Chilean gardeners do not consider weeding part of their job. My previous gardener, Nelson, whose quick sense of humor always had me chuckling, resigned saying, “Your garden has too many weeds”.
            This created a dilemma for me since my body no longer takes to the postures required by weeding. I've had to make some concessions in this battle, conceding victory to the determined oxalis that has invaded the lawn in the backyard with its subterranean labyrinth root system. At least, it’s green and bears perky yellow flowers. I stick to the leafier weeds that have shallow, single roots. I have a handy tool for the purpose and, the garden being small, manage to keep weeds from thinking they own this plot of land. I've noticed that they, like garden flowers, don't all appear at once. Some types prefer late spring, others early summer. Just when I think I've uprooted them all, another variety makes its appearance.
Michael Pollan wrote a whole chapter on weeds in his book “Second Nature. I reread his “Weeds are Us” chapter this morning, hoping to stimulate the creative juices, but realized it would be presumptuous of me to think I have anything to add and written in such entertaining prose.
I've been aiming for the look of a wild garden – no manicured looks for me – gradually introducing Chilean native plants alongside a few California natives (do not inquire how they got here). Here is our oasis, for beyond the city limits the landscape has turned brown, arid and dusty. More grass fires have added ash to the mix. The forestry service reports an 800% increase in land burned compared to last year. How fragile is our earth, and we along with it.

I think I’ll go out and pull a few weeds.

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