I’ve just read a very interesting article in the New York Times by Michael Pollan called Weeds Are Us. In a way, it develops the point I was making last week about having empathy for non-human species – namely, weeds. However, he cautions against it because it once allowed weeds to overrun his garden.
It is something I know myself. When bindweed first appeared in my garden 2 years ago, I didn’t know what it was. I was attracted to the pretty white trumpet flowers and didn’t notice that it’d completely swamped the plant. When I did, I was horrified, pulled it all out and put it in the garden bin. If you know anything about bindweed, you’ll know this only made the problem worse.
The following year, more appeared and, again, I pulled it all out and put it in the garden bin. Only to discover, later in the year, it’d completely swamped the tree at the back of my garden. (I’m not very observant about what happens in my garden). Which I then had to pay a professional gardener to clear for me.
This year, I’m trying to stay on top of it but it is all round my garden and I’m staggered by how much it grows in as little as three days!
Like Pollan, I’ve learned the hard way that you can’t be blasé about weeds. That I have to be discerning about what I let grow and what I don’t. Pollan claims this discernment is culture and that “To weed is to apply culture to nature”.
In fact, he goes further and states that culture is humanity’s best chance at saving the planet. This is true. Whether it is weeds or us or anything else, we simply cannot let destruction reign. We have to nourish creativity in place of destruction, which requires discerning what is good and what is bad. So the future of the planet rests on us having good taste.