This is the view out my back door, between the house and the garage.  Carefully arranged, except for one thing–the tall, graceful, flufffy-headed Horseweed (Erigeron canadensis) that decided on its own to seed itself within the bricks of the walk.  It’s the perfect accent to the composition–a feather-duster plume at the top of a tall unbranched stem.


There were several smaller plants that appeared in the brick walk, as well, but most were trampled down from the comings and goings on the walk.

Many years ago, when I first started gardening with native plants a whole row of Horseweed popped up.  Never having seen them before I watched them grow and bloom.  I was not impressed and pulled them out, never to be seen again until this year.

Everything I read about it on the web was negative–worse weed ever.  But Dick Young, in his book, Kane County Wild Plants & Natural Areas, had a completely different take on it:

Erigeron canadensis-common- on roadsides, fields, and waste areas.  It is an open, graceful, native annual to 3’ tall with a stem covered with thin, light green linear leaves and topped with tiny, long-stalked blossoms from mid-July to mid-Nov.  It emerges from the cracks in paved medium strips, it covers broken asphalt, concrete heaps, bare gravel and debris in waste areas and though unintended, it probably does more to mask trash than any other urban weed.

It’s all in how one looks at the world, isn’t it?

We miss you, Dick Young.

Reminder:  Annual Historic House Tour in Elgin this Saturday, Sept 8, 2012, 9-5.


5 Responses to Serendipidy

  1. Suzanne Poursine Massion September 4, 2012 at 11:17 am #

    Scratch the surface of a botonist/biologist and discover a poet. I’ve come across other Dick Young descriptions with a colorful flair. He almost makes me feel guilty for pulling Erigeron out. Your photo is an exterior stillife. I could not have composed it better in a painting. Also… Erigeron Canadensis is so much more romantic than Horseweed. Maybe I’ll leave a few.

  2. PatHill September 4, 2012 at 11:36 am #

    You’re welcome to paint that picture anytime, Suzanne. I’m glad you appreciated both the picture and Dick Young’s sentiments. Not everyone would.

  3. Guy Smith September 4, 2012 at 7:42 pm #

    Hey, I love all of the Native plants! They all fill a niche! Weed ordinances are written and enforced to stifle Gardeners who attempt to let nature follow it’s own order and evolution. Please remember to take photos of all of these beautiful creations, and refer to them by their Proper Latin/scientific names. Weed ordinance enforcers Typically cannot push you over if you know more than they do about what grows on your property. As long as you aren’t too blatant, you can grow a lot of Native species that would have been considered “common weeds” just years ago.Thank you to ALL the Wild Ones, We have greater Freedoms to grow the highly diverse habitats, as Nature requires.

  4. Pat Glen September 6, 2012 at 1:16 pm #

    Dick Young made it possible to enjoy so much more of what we find growing in our own little worlds.

    Taken a step further his points of view on plants even the more common species could also apply to animals. Each one has it’s own special value…even if we don’t readily see it.

    You’ve done so much to further the idea of planting natives and appreciating the uniqueness of each species, leaf by leaf, flower by flower. Thank you.

  5. Valerie Blaine September 10, 2012 at 5:26 am #

    I agree with you, Pat. Beauty is something we make up in our minds, collectively and individually. Queen Anne’s lace and chicory are beautiful plants in my mind, and they do more good than harm to grace an otherwise ugly roadside. Purple loosestrife flowers are gorgeous – yet we don’t “like” them. House sparrows are no less attractive than, say, worm-eating warblers, yet house sparrows are despised and warblers are loved. I wonder what rest of the living world thinks of Homo sapiens!

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