Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The pampered weed

When I started my herbs in the greenhouse earlier this spring, one of my little cilantro pots didn't grow cilantro. It grew something else that looked a lot like the Sweet William I planted last year. So I let it grow, watered it faithfully,  spoke words of encouragement to it, and waited to see what it might be.

Just before I planted my annuals two weeks ago, it sent up a shoot that suggested that it might be thinking about flowering. So when I put out my lavatera, marigolds, snapdragons and pansies, I found a special spot for my little anonymous plant and carefully planted and watered it, too.

Today, it bloomed, and I realized that it's not a Sweet William. It's something I've always considered to be a weed, but I finally looked it up and found out it is called willow-herb, which is related to fireweed. It spreads itself freely and loves the loose soil in gardens. Used medicinally, it's supposed to be helpful with acne treatment. Who knew?

The little pink flowers are so tiny that it's hard to get a clear picture of them, and I can't imagine what kind of insect might pollinate them. Having spent so much time looking after my weedy little friend, I'm rather loathe to pull it up. But I've let other pretty weeds go because I thought they were attractive, and they've taken over! I'm still working on ridding my yard of vetch, creeping charlie, and yellow wood sorrel. So do I really want to have to work on willow-herb eradication too?

Maybe I will pick the stalk after it's flowered a little more, put it in a vase, and set it on my desk. After all, my little weed and I go back a long way.

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