Merriam-Webster defines a weed as a plant that is “not valued where it is growing.” This is good to remember when you see plants taking root in your garden that were not part of your calculation. They’re only weeds if you wish they weren’t there.

Mexican Evening Primrose in my Garden

Mexican Evening Primrose

Every spring and early summer a plant called Mexican Evening Primrose emerges in my yard. My backyard is large, because it backs onto a canyon. I never planted the primrose or planned for them. They simply appeared. But they have delicate pink flowers that paint the land with dabs of color that combine in waves that break just short of the fence.

When wild plants are desirable I call them volunteers, not weeds. Aside from the Mexican primrose, there is the tomato plant that came out even though I had decided I wasn’t going to plant a vegetable garden to spare water in a drought..

There is the Wandering Jew, a pretty plant with deep green leaves and tiny blue flowers. It’s fast growing and its stems stab roots into the ground as it walks across it. To keep it in check I tear off some parts and feed them to the chickens, never killing the whole thing.

Even dandelions are not entirely unwelcome because they’re happily eaten by the livestock. Same goes for the oxalis, a wild plant that looks like clover and runs mad in a San Diego winter. It’s a pest, I suppose, but it looks like a green blanket tumbled over the ground with tall yellow flowers. When I finally lose patience and tear them out, they don’t go to waste because there are the hens to feed.

Over the fence my yard gives way to a canyon that’s wild, in a sense, but like all of nature it’s touched by our presence with exotic trees and shrubs that were never seen two centuries ago. Humans have dominion over the plants and animals just like it says in the good book but it’s always slipping away. I’ll lose my grip on my plot of land as long as they’re not bunch of goddamn weeds.

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