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Beauty in Forgotten Places

When I was a young child, I spent a lot of time lying in the backyard staring at the teeny, tiny flowers that grew amongst the crabgrass and clover. They were perfect miniature copies of the larger flowers from my mom's garden, just so much smaller, barely visible unless you lay down to see them up close. I used to make miniature bouquets in tiny antique medicine jars and put them by my bed (Perhaps this is a good time to interject and say I didn't have cable television when I was a kid). I had forgotten about this (admittedly strange) way to pass the time until this year, when one by one my childhood flower friends have come back to my yard.

Wild Violets, Bird's Eye Speedwell, Azure Bluet

We moved two years ago and, for the first time in my life, I have had control over my own yard and have spent a lot of time and effort "greening" it. We planted fruit trees, berry bushes, an herb garden, a vegetable garden, and several pollinator gardens. I planted lots of clover. But mostly, we just didn't do what most people do to their yards - we didn't fertilize, plant grass, or pull weeds. We just let the yard grow, mowing it when it got too high, but otherwise leaving it alone. And, suddenly, the yard is filled with tiny, beautiful flowers, which are attracting tons of happy bees, hover flies, and butterflies.

Northern White Violet, Common Dandelion, Garden Pansy

This post is a love note to all the beautiful non-grass plants growing my my yard. Since I am not an expert on weeds (except Dandelions and Purslane), I have been using Seek to identify them. Seek is iNaturalist's app for kids that identifies plants and animals. It's pretty accurate and a lot of fun, but not perfect (One time it told me a common garter snake was a Australian Blue-tongued Skink), so don't use this as a guide for what to eat! It's also really fun - and frustrating - to try and identify various pollinator species as they buzz around in the yard.

Virginia Strawberry, Dandelion with three different pollinator species, Cinquefoil (yellow flower)

Some of these plants are natives; some are non-natives. Some of them are even invasive. All of them are considered "weeds". All of them are beautiful. It's time we redefine our beliefs around what is desirable. Just because our parents and grandparents liked perfect grass doesn't mean we have to. Embrace biodiversity! It's better for the pollinators and for the planet. And it's certainly more interesting to look at that plain old grass.

Thyme-leaved Sandwort, Speedwell again (my favorite), Hedge Bedstraw

Happy No Mow May!

- Hannah


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