The word “weed” conjures up immortal tough grasses with long tap roots that grow down into the belly of the earth and scar your hands when you try to dig them out, and then stubbornly reappear the following year with more vigor. Or the hairy crabgrass that grows wherever the sun hits the ground, along sidewalks, between and in between flower beds, and every nook and cranny of garden space.
When I learned that the agapanthus is considered a weed in New Zealand, I was flabbergasted. This is plant that seems contained, growing in clumps as day lilies do, sending thick, strong stems, 2-4 feet long, at the end of which some 50 – 60 star-shaped purple flowers, each with six dainty petal are arranged in pompom-like clusters. To me, the agapanthus is a magnificent, stately flower, adaptable to tall, graceful flower arrangements. My sister floats the pompoms like candles in bowls of clear water.
My father, who taught me to love plants and genetically lent me his green thumb, used to define weeds as plants that grow where we’ve decided they shouldn’t. He was particularly fond of the dandelion,those yellow bursts of sunny petals that sprinkle unmowed lawns, or suddenly pop up on manicured ones, and then have the audacity to turn into feathery wisps that children love to blow and make a wish on. Not to mention dandelion wine and salad if you’re so inclined.
Here are some pics of the lovely agapanthus taken near where I live in New Zealand and my poem below.
of muscle and bone,
pith of water and cell,
a long tap root
sprouts fine fibrous hairs
and runs deep down
into the belly of the earth.
Sunflower yellow blooms
and feathery seeds,
dare to live
between cracks in pavements,
within gated walls,
between blades of pristine grass
in sculptured lawns.
Undaunted by perennial labels—
(damned nuisance, common weed,)
they grow quietly, striving to succeed.