If at plants you don’t succeed, try weeds

Jim Lee

Plants hate me. When I watch those leaves, buds, and stalks (in other people’s yards) bobbing and swaying in the breeze and those emerging blossoms basking in the Portales sunshine, I see much more than meets the eyeball.
Yes, I know what they’re doing. I can see through all that supposedly innocent plant activity. The evil things occupy themselves in conspiracies against me, but I have become far too clever for their games as I brave another spring as a homeowner in need of botanical enrichment.
Will they win again this year, or will tulips bloom on both sides of that brick mailbox planter thing? We shall see. Ah yes, we shall see.
When warm weather recently returned, I faced another season of horticultural horror with no green thumb on either hand. Yet still I urged desirable greenery to thrive in our yard. In previous years the only green I could grow was that fuzzy stuff on a half-eaten hot dog after six months in the fridge.
Buds appeared in neighboring yards, and to my amazement and delight, little yellow flowers popped up all over the yard. Something grew other than sand burrs and crabgrass, something I didn’t even recall planting!
“At last I win!” I proclaimed to the vast skies of the Llano Estacado. My arms outstretched in a passionate cry of victory, I danced and giggled with wild abandon.
Then I heard a familiar voice of reason. “Dandelions are weeds, not flowers.”
“Nay, nay,” I protested. “For those delightful little balls of happy yellow are miniature suns in a solar system of domestic flora.”
“Don’t be so silly,” my wife Saundra replied. “Take off those feathers and come inside before the neighbors complain.”
My head hanging low, I shuffled into the house with the seed catalogue clutched firmly in my sweaty hands.
How could those beautiful little flowers be weeds — because I didn’t plant them?
Does that make weeds out of wildflowers? How does anybody tell the difference between a weed and a non-weed?
Why do people encourage Bermuda grass to grow in their yards while they look down their noses at prairie grass? If somebody really likes dandelions, why call them weeds?
Dandelions don’t seem to hate me. Does this mean plants that don’t hate me are weeds? If I consider crabgrass and sand burrs, I can feel botanically idolized. If I provide a safe haven free of pesticides and weed pullers, am I not a neighborhood environmentalist?
Should I go a step further and found an organization to end cruelty to unwanted plants?
Why not? I can’t grow anything else.
Some time ago when my friend Tony Gennaro told me my rose bushes were dead, and that was why they wouldn’t grow or bloom, I went into sobbing seclusion.
When my big ugly dog chewed off the baby lilac bushes and used my tomato plants as a source of tennis balls, I realized I was truly horticulturally challenged.
Well, I have seen the light. I should grow what I am meant to grow — what the unenlightened call weeds.
The neighbors can brag about their beautiful yards and snobby plants all they want. I have my pride, and I have my mongrel plants.

Jim Lee is a columnist for the Portales News-Tribune. He can be contacted at 359-2204. His e-mail: