Rogue Plant or Weed?

The bane of every gardener – weeding. Weeding is one of those things, like going to the dentist, that you know you should do, but don’t really want to. They are, assuming things are not out of control, activities that prevent things, the end achieved is not the end of the activity. But, what is a weed and who determines whether a potentially perfectly nice plant is a weed?

Weeds are generally not a big deal for our garden. I plant things close enough that weeds are out competed and they do not, generally, grow tall enough to get any sunlight. Also, the garden is in Arizona, so, where I do not add water, it takes a special type of plant to survive. Usually a half-hour or less a week is all it takes.

This year we had the normal weeds. I don’t know what they are but they are a viny plant that is also my primary weed in Phoenix. We also had a bunch of unexpected plants in unexpected places. By space in the garden, unexpected Avamatoes were our biggest issue. They first started appearing, in rather large numbers, where my sister planted some herb seeds. I assumed she also planted a lot of Avamato seeds (after all, little sisters are always up to something). Then Avamatoes started showing up under the composter, in other parts of the herb garden, and in the courtyard – where I know she wasn’t planting seeds. As luck would have it, as if the plants were trying to show their merit to the garden, some of these plants have been out heaviest producers of Avamatoes. A few of them are ready to come down to Phoenix to over-winter. It’s not only people who come to Phoenix in the winter to warm up.

Outside the backyard courtyard wall is a small tree that I planted  flower bulbs and mums under a few years ago. Last year we had a morning-glory grow up the tree and it looked quite nice to have the deep purple flowers amongst the tree branches. This spring we put a few, and only a few, seeds under the tree again. Well, last year’s plant must have beat us to dispersing seeds because we have them along the walkway border, pulling the mums down (and they are large mums), and a few in the courtyard where we did not plant seeds. Even if they are not in areas I would have picked, they look nice.

One of the things my father likes to do, especially with the kids, is feed the birds. The kids will sit on the counter with a bird id book and let us know who is at the feeder. Apparently some of the birds are not that careful of eaters because we also ended up with little sunflowers everywhere. Most of the seedlings were eaten, we think by other birds, but some grew. We have them in the retaining wall, by the stairs, and generally around the front yard. Unlike the other sunflower seeds we plant these are quite short, about 18 inches.

So, what is a weed and who was granted the authority to make that decision? For our garden, I generally have that authority and I am glad all of the unexpected plants were not deemed weeds. We have extra color around the yard and lots of extra little tomatoes.


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