I’ve been asked, often, why I have such an obsession with weeds and with not growing species with any sort of propensity to weediness in gardens.
I do sometimes wonder myself.
The obsession, quite frankly, exhausts me. Once environmental weeds are in your head you recognise them everywhere, lurking and menacing.
Some weeds advance beyond the confines of the garden fence within months of being planted. Some take 50 years to give even a hint of their ‘take no prisoners’ approach to landscape invasion. But once they have broken free, there’s no going back without the sorts of billions that are now reserved for border patrols or health services.
So why care if some pretty flowers carpet the countryside? Aren’t they lovely, so pretty! I do try not to be too grumpy.
This is pretty like kittens or boy bands or teeth whitener. Dangerous when set free or one dimensional or misleading.
Biodiversity is critical because if its, well, biodiversity. Without the millions of different types of plants, animals, fungi, bacteria and algae on the planet we’d have nothing to breathe, eat, drink or use to build shelter. But, hey, we wouldn’t be here to know.
All living things eat, reproduce and respire in an incomprehensible web of interconnectedness. Every species relies on many others in some way and is in turn relied on by others
But back to weeds. Here we have a bank of Arctotis daisies on a sand dune. Count the plant species: one. (Yes, there are a couple of strands of grass but they’re a weed too.)
These daisies, because they grow uncontrolled by other plants, alter the shape of the sand dunes. They cause huge drop-offs, that can make it difficult for a surfer to get to her waves or a Little Penguin to bring dinner home to his chicks. They came from home gardens and were planted because they are pretty and “quickly fill up a difficult spot” (warning! warning!).
However they do it, weeds reduce or eliminate biodiversity and, as they say, there goes the neighbourhood.
Ask your local natural resources authority for suitable plants from your area to plant in your garden.