Posts Tagged ‘value of weeds’

You know you are in good hands when the author makes weeds entertaining.  And it is a safe bet he is English.  All of this, plus a bit of research, you get in Richard Mabey, Weeds: How vagabond plants gatecrashed civilisation and changed the way we think about nature.

If the author failed to mention every weed star in Britain, it would be hard to notice.  He begins with the first Neolithic settlers and the weeds that came with them.  He gives the Romans their full due.  It seems everyone in history has played a role in the ever changing battle with weeds.  Shoes, tires, potted plants, ballast, manure, cuffs and coats, birds, have had an unintended role.  New crops and garden specimens were more conscious efforts.  More blatant were those Victorians who went about sowing seeds for everyone.

Mabey’s long perspective on history has convinced him that weeds are universal and inevitable, so the best human response is to learn to live with them and accept the advantages and rewards they offer.  With the earth warming we may find that we are dependent upon weeds to maintain life.

He does not advocate loving such things as the hogweed, but he does propose that all of us inspect our weed bigotry.  When we do, we will find weeds to love, to eat, to use as seasoning, and perhaps other things as well.  Some may become major food sources in the future.

It is a marvel that a small cluster of islands can be so thoroughly traveled and recorded in an uncounted number of books.  No other place can match it, and yet there is always a fresh book to read.  Lucky us.  Charles Marlin

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