There are two kinds of people in the world, those who believe there are two kinds of people in the world and those who don’t.–Robert Benchley
When it comes to gardening, there are two kinds of weeders in the world, those who say, “When in doubt, yank it out,” and those who “On a whim, leave it in.” I am one of the leave-it-inners. If I wasn’t, I would have yanked out Oriental poppies, lupines, and ‘Zebrina’ mallow out of my newly acquired garden, relics from the previous gardener that I didn’t recognize. My friend Bub calls them “wait-and-see” plants.
Well, I will be the first to admit wait and see is a double-edged sword. If I had followed the advice of my father-in-law, who told me, “I don’t know what it is, but it’s a weed,” I would not be pulling motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) out of my shade garden every year. In its first year, it makes an intriguing rosette of foliage, quite ornamental. In its second year, it shoots up and makes many seeds, and its flowers aren’t all that eye-catching.
Last year, way in the back of my north border, I spied a very attractive plant with blue-green leaves and maroon stems. I didn’t know what it was, so I decided to wait and see what the flowers looked like. It got over three feet tall before it bloomed in mid-August, and its flowers were underwhelming, basically the center of daisy without the petals. They were so underwhelming that I forgot my intention to identify it after it bloomed. (It hardly looked like it was blooming, after all.)
Who knew such an insignificant flower could make so many seeds? As you might have guessed, I have plenty of this to share and more to spare–and I’m not sparing any of it. As a matter of fact, I had already pulled out the most impressive specimens before I thought to take a picture, so please check out the links in the next paragraph for better photos.
It turns out this is devil’s beggar-tick (Bidens frondosa). Even the name sounds ominous, but it’s really not that bad. Beggar-ticks are those seeds that get stuck in the sleeve of your sweater and in your dog’s fur when you go hiking through fields in the fall, and they are a devil to get out. It’s a native plant that normally grows along ponds and streams, and it provides food for muskrats and ducks. Quite possibly if we hadn’t had such a wet summer, I wouldn’t have as many of them filling every empty space on the shady side of the house. But I do, and I’m no longer in doubt. I’m yanking them out.