Teaser Tuesday: Weeds by Richard Mabey

I love gardens but I’m not a good gardener and I’ve always thought that I can grow weeds much better than any other plants. I read somewhere that weeds are just plants growing in the wrong place. My experience is that they are extremely hardy, grow exceptionally well and need little if any help from me – leave them to themselves and they’ll quickly fill any spaces and more on any type of soil.

I have spent hours, days, years even trying to get rid of bindweed and ground elder. No matter what I’ve tried – digging them out, which seems impossible, smothering them or dousing them with chemicals, which worked for a while,- they always comes back and kill anything growing in the way. The only benefit I can see is that the flowers are quite pretty.

So, when I was sitting in the café in a bookshop the other week and I saw Weeds by Richard Mabey on display opposite where I was sitting I just had to have a look at it:

I haven’t read it yet, but I’ve dipped into it. Here is an extract that caught my eye as I browsed the pages:

Weeds thrive in the company of humans. They aren’t parasites, because they can exist without us, but we are their natural ecological partners, the species alongside which they do best. They relish the things we do to the soil; clearing forests, digging, farming, dumping nutrient-rich rubbish. They flourish in arable fields, battlefields, parking lots, herbaceous borders. They exploit our transport systems, our cooking adventures, our obsession with packaging. Above all they use us when we stir the world up, disrupt its settled patterns. It would be a tautology to say that these days they are found most abundantly where there is most weeding; but that notion ought to make us question whether the weeding encourages the weeds as much as vice versa. (page 12)

Is he saying we’d do just as well not doing any weeding?

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly event hosted by MizB where you share ‘teasers’. I’ve adapted it a bit in this post, to include more information about the book and longer teasers.

9 thoughts on “Teaser Tuesday: Weeds by Richard Mabey

  1. I’m a big fan of weeds (well not all weeds, obviously, but many medicinal plants are considered weeds and those are the ones I’m interested in), so I think I need to find myself a copy of this book. I find the cover quite odd-looking, though!


  2. Here on our rural property we seem to grow weeds and stones better than anything else, albeit Dave grew a nice crop of tomatoes among the weeds last summer. I’ve pretty much given up on a nice flower garden, however, I am still waging a good fight against the briar bushes that encroach on our land from the vacant land next to us.


  3. Hi Margaret,

    A great teaser passage, from a very sensible gardener.

    I think he is definitely telling us that weeding is a futile exercise and that is fine by me, as I grow weeds better than anything else, together with brambles and ivy, which encroach from and adjacent bridle track.

    A weed flower bed has got to be the way to go next year!!


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