A Milkweed by Any Other Name

23 Apr

by Roger White


In our somewhat slipshod efforts to maintain and beautify the old homestead, wifey and I recently marked off several great swaths of our mangy front yard, designating these areas for gardendom. We’d seen it done before. Stick a few flowers in the ground, throw in a porcelain frog, a garden gnome or two and some of those weird polished balls. How hard could it be?

ghomie zomb 

Hard, gentle readers. Very, very hard. For one thing, you can’t simply cordon off a patch of your yard and say “garden.” No. You have to chop this area to bits, dig every living thing out of it down to about Paleozoic level, lay down plastic and pebbles and poisons strong enough to kill large livestock, and then wait. I’m not sure what the waiting is for, but if it is to be spent in dutiful prayer to the garden gods, then that’s probably where we failed.


Well, we chopped, we dug, we laid down, we poisoned, and we waited—and then we diligently deposited our garden-plants-to-be. We watered and fertilized and pampered. We hauled enough rocks and mulch and potting soil in and out of our yard to create a neighborhood landfill. By the way, some awfully weird critters live about a foot down in your soil. And they don’t like you invading their territory. A bulbous, white, wormy-kinda like thistextured thing, which looked like a cross between an albino snake and the creature from “Alien,” hissed at me and slithered away during our digging process. This is why, I told myself, I work in an office building.


Anyway, after all the digging and planting and excess body fluid loss, we finally sat back and anticipated the burgeoning growth of nature’s beauty. The selfish part of me (that’s about 79% of the greater me) didn’t really care how much splendor our garden added; I was simply looking forward to mowing that much less of the yard. Yeah. Right. All the digging and chopping and poisoning did kill just about everything within the garden’s city limits—everything except the weeds. That damn garden is now home to more weeds than the rest of our front and back yards put together. What are weeds made of, anyway? Plutonium? Weeds, I have come to determine, are not of this earth. They are of the devil. Satan sits Down There and ponders not only the big ways to vex humankind—ya know, hurricanes, drought, wars, plagues, and all that—but he also has in his arsenal more subtle weapons, like wasps, bad breath, Rush Limbaugh, and weeds. Out, foul weeds! This is war.


Sure, we have some nice palm sagos now, and some cactus and pretty flowery orange and yellow things that I can’t remember the names of, but the vast majority of our yard maintenance time is now spent in hand-to-tendril combat with the weeds. I dare say that we have more weeds, and a greater variety of them, than before we began to “beautify” our yard. They somehow multiplied during the gardening process. It’s gotten to the point where I tell passing neighbors that we’re actually cultivating a weed-centric garden.


“Oh, yes, many of God’s more wondrous plants that some of the less-educated tend to think of as mere weeds are actually marvelous flora,” I say in an academic tone to the couple from down the street (whose garden is immaculate, of course) as they stroll by.


“Is that so?”


“Quite. The lovely Taraxacum officinale, or field dandelion, that you see here. The hearty Japanese Knotweed over there. Yellow nutsedge, the majestic ragweed, the distinctive milk thistle, which is a healthy antioxidant, of course.” I adjust my nonexistent glasses, nodding knowledgeably.


“Interesting. And very unusual. A weed garden.”


“Yes. See how the milk thistle matures to a stunning purple bloom? Well, ta-ta now. Oh, Lovey,” I say, turning to the wife, “is it tea time yet?”


“Honey,” she says as she pulls a long rope of dollar weed out of the ground. “Shut up. And dig up that stunning milkweed in front of you.”


“Yes, dear.”


Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.



2 Responses to “A Milkweed by Any Other Name”

  1. Ingrid April 23, 2013 at 1:48 pm #

    If a British accent and tea drinking makes you intellectual, what happened to me Rogah??!

    • oldspouse April 23, 2013 at 1:51 pm #

      Ah, but don’t you see, Ingy, I see you as an intellectual? We Yanks are easily impressed by the accent. Y’all.

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