When Weeds Are Wildflowers


It’s thistle season in Texas right now. The ranchers down here aren’t real fond of the nuisance of the thistles in their pastures. But looking out at the beauty of a field of thistles takes my breath away.

I’ve always been a little obtuse about the distinction between weeds and wildflowers.

As a kid I always lamented that we didn’t have more dandelions in our yard.

“They’re weeds.” I was told.

And in my subdivision neighborhood in the suburbs we all paid good money to have folks come out and spray our lawns to keep those weeds under control.

But I was the luckiest kid in my neighborhood because out beyond our back yard was a field–real estate that was a little less desirable because of its situation on a busy road. This field hardly ever got mowed and the grasses and “weeds” got to grow and grow.

In “my” field I had dandelions and clover flowers that got so tall you wouldn’t believe it. There was lots of Queen Ann’s Lace and there was a yellow flower that grew out there in abundance too–I never did identify it.

I know they’re all considered weeds. No self-respecting suburbanite would want them in their yard.

But I couldn’t understand it. They were glorious. That field was full of wonder and all the majesty of God’s creation.

I’ve often wondered, who decides what’s a weed and what’s a wildflower?

I mean, I get it that if you’re planting vegetables you don’t want some other plant taking the nutrients away from what you’re growing. In this way, even a vegetable out of place could be considered a “weed.”

But I loved my field and all the lovely wildflowers that grew out there.

And I love my thistles down here in Texas.

And I just gotta wonder about how hard we try to keep our weeds under control. I mean, if they’re not hurting anything, do we really gotta mow ’em all down and spray ’em into submission?

Then again, we humans are infamous for our need to control, well, just about everything…and everyone.

We best be careful though because otherwise we’ll miss the beauty of the wild ones.

4 responses to this post.

  1. Great minds think alike! http://wp.me/p1mk9f-4W

  2. Posted by Hermano Grande on May 26, 2014 at 8:32 am


  3. A pasture overgrown with thistles inhibits the growth of much needed grass for our cattle to survive. The spiked leaves can damage eyes of grazing animals, especially the young calves trying forage through a thick maze of thistles. Like many beautiful aspects of nature, thistles are somewhat of a catch 22. Left unattended, a pasture over run with thistles, may take a year or more to recover grazing ability. In a garden they provide beauty and food for certain birds
    Thistles remind me of the allure of alcohol especially a dark rich Tempranillo. A goblet or two leaves one in a pleasurable state. Too much can lead to disaster. A weed can be just a flower in the wrong place or an invasively, destructive nuisance.
    Isn’t the wonder and beauty of our Lord’s world a delightful paradox sometimes?

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