Claire McEwen’s Blog

In Praise of Weeds

This spring and summer I was busy. Two-romance-novel-deadlines busy. Trying-to-write-a-proposal-for-a-bunch-more-books busy. Home- with-a-young-child busy.

My garden suffered. Weeds thrived in the California drought heat while my cultivated plants withered. And I stressed. I felt guilty about my garden. Sad that it looked run down and neglected when usually it’s a place people stop on the sidewalk to appreciate.

But I had NO time. So I finally decided, for my own sanity and happiness, to accept it. To even try to appreciate it. I blog about finding romance all around us. I write novels about finding evidence of beauty and love in a world that can be harsh. In an attempt to find that beauty in my weeds, I went outside on a brief writing break and took their pictures. Weed portraits. I figured if I looked at them from the right angle, I might even find some romance there. Kind of like life, right?

Here are my portraits, and my discoveries.

Wild mustard added a cloud of yellow to my half dug-up, abandoned back yard renovation project.

Dandelions, crabgrass and something tall and skinny helped green my drought-destroyed side yard.

An impressive milkweed grew taller than me. We hoped it would house monarch butterfly caterpillars, but we eventually realized it was the wrong kind of milkweed!

Nasturtiums I never planted helped to hide my irrigation hose.

Something small and coral combined with baby tears and oxalis to create a miniature garden against the back wall of the house.

I think this is a spurge? It was a soft ground cover, trailing over the flagstones.

Dandelions added a bright spot to our drought-browned lawn.

Borage showed up, adding some pretty purple color.

These lacy white flowers helped hide my irrigation pipes.

There was a kind of romance to my abandoned garden. And a sense of hope, that despite the drought, despite the neglect, beauty showed up all over. Next year I plan to do a better job at maintaining my yard. But when these weeds appear in spring, I will welcome as many of them into my garden as I can.

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