Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Late Answer to an Unfortunate Exhibition

At this year's SF Flower and Garden Show, one exhibit stood by not featuring plants, but featuring opinions. "Wanted Weeds" had reams of paper for people to comment on an idea that wasn't so very new - summarized in their garden description like this:

This garden provokes and inspires conversation, questioning our values around European invaders. The garden will be mobile as beds of weeds roll around the expo floor. When we think of weeds, we think tenacious, invasive, opportunistic…all negative judgments. However these villains can be virtuous host plants, nectar sources, and medicinals. We place our natives on a pedestal; we have a somewhat pious attitude about what should survive and thrive. Do we desire a pure white nature? Perhaps this fantasy is not worth perpetuating? Maybe changing our attitude about weeds is the answer and the nature that we should look towards.

I found the collection of weeds that were chosen quite interesting. I seem to remember yarrow - well, why not. But there was also dandelion, which I could live without, and the dreaded Ivy, which likes to smother everything in its path. This odd combination of naturalized, relative benign exotics and a clearly invasive exotic high on the Don't Plant a Pest list made me wonder whether the folks who put in this "garden" really thought about this question before provoking others to think. The group, urbanhedgerow.com - a collection of instigators, fine artists, and inspirators (whatever that is) does mostly art projects and might shy away from science.

So, here's some suggested reading, friends:

(And, just as an aside, I also think a native habitat with its astonishing biodiversity and change over the season does look more attractive than an area of ivy - at least here in California. 

3 comments:

Jason said...

What the hell do they mean by a "pure white nature"? If they are making some kind implication that opposition to invasive plants is akin to racial bigotry, that is odd since it is many invasive plants are associated with colonialism and European domination. More likely they are just setting up a straw man, since I doubt that there are any serious conservationists who think that a "pure" environment can be achieved these days.

Country Mouse said...

Well put, my friend!! Good links too. Not all weeds are equal -- For restoration gardeners in the Coast Ranges areas - Weed Whacker Ken Moore has a PDF called "A Plague of Plants" with great advice about how to rid your land of the worst invaders. It's on his Wildlands Restoration Team web site: http://www.wildwork.org/

James said...

Almost sounds like it was a manifesto meant to provoke. We'll never be rid of may of the weeds but that doesn't mean we shouldn't do what we can to mitigate their impacts, which is what their last sentence seems to want us to accept.