I've referred to Ed before as my hobbling, octogenarian, Korean war vet neighbor. When it comes to gardening, I follow his lead. This is a close-up of my weed island. That draping purple thing that looks like a bunch of deflated slippers is purple vetch. My weed island is actually on the parkway, the narrow strip of grass between the sidewalk and the street. Because that strip of land is a particularly inhospitable strip to non-native plants, and because that strip is full of little stones and other debris (cig butts, shards of glass), and because, truthfully, mowing along the curb is small feat, I decided that this year I would allow a portion of the strip to "go wild." If you've been reading this blog for more than a year, you already know that I make room in my yard and garden for native plants. The purple vetch, however, did not show up of its own accord.
Sometimes when I'm not blogging, I walk to the Stop n Shop. I don't necessarily go there to buy things, but just to get out into the world and look around. My route to the Stop n Shop takes me across some very unused train tracks, and last summer I repeatedly admired this beautiful vine with long strands of slipper-like purple flowers. I kept my eye on it and when the pea-like seed pods matured, I collected a handful and shoved them into my pocket. If you want wild plants to grow in your yard, pay close attention to the environs in which you find them. Then, look for similar environs in your yard. Rocket science? No. If it was, I'd be working for NASA, or worse, Northrop-Grumman, making weapons of mass destruction. Instead, I'm just giving pretty shit new homes.
These black-eyed Susan are wild too, and they can grow pretty much anywhere: good soil, bad soil, full sun, part sun, probably even in a too-small pot. I'm just pretty damn happy to be living in a community that doesn't poo-poo letting some "weeds" grow on the parkway. Where I'm from originally, they don't shoot you if your lawn gets too tall—but then again, nobody's lawn ever gets too tall. There are ordinances against it, but the ordinances really only repeat the higher law, the social taboo of sticking your neck out too far, the communal agreement, the middle-of-the-road standard definition of what constitutes beauty and what constitutes an eye-sore. I'm not totally knocking my home town; I'm just saying that there's something a wee bit wrong about sequestering wild plants into those places deemed appropriate, i.e. the prairie preserves and so forth. I like how nature is allowed, through laziness or will, to inch onto the lawns of this town. It's permissible behavior. Around here a Chem-lawn is a violation. I kinda like that.