Once upon a time, our house was owned by someone who knew how to garden. We have curved beds, expensive edging, some 'garden rooms' and other evidence of careful planning. And then in some later era of the pre-us history, a new owner moved in, someone whose planting criteria were ugly, invasive and just plain inappropriate. I have spent four years now arranging for the removal of trees that have ruined our foundations, fallen on the neighbour's house and sent up a forest of suckes that give me welts. I have spent a summer standing on a tin roof dragging some unnamed vine out of the elegant old apricot tree. I have spent a fortune on knee-deep mulch. I have sent Al out with a crowbar to do battle with unwanted and unproductive blackberries and root systems the size of a small city. And this past weekend I dug and burrowed out bulblets of some nasty plant, doing so imperfectly, with a sore back, and knowing that they'll all be back as soon as I put in the tomatoes.
Sifting through the soil and thinking of the forest of sticky-weed I've yet to face, I thought about all those well-meaning de-constructions and re-interpretations of 'weed': a plant out of place, a successful competitor, a too successful competitor, an as-yet un-identified resource, a victim of gardening fashions. Or maybe, a weed is a plant that brings with it a deadened despair; it is a destroyer of weekends, an embitterer of souls.