The Wild Flower Page
Conserv@tion - the monthly review of wildlife conservation in Britain
The Wild Flower Page
The Wild Flower Page


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Naturenet: The Ranger's Award


Norman Nicholson (1914 - 1987)


Some people are flower lovers.
I'm a weed lover.

Weeds don't need planting in well-drained soil;
They don't ask for fertilizer or bits of rag to scare away birds.
They come without invitation;
And they don't take the hint when you want them to go.
Weeds are nobody's guests;
More like squatters.

Coltsfoot laying claim to every new-dug clump of clay;
Pearlwort scraping up a living from a ha'porth of mortar;
Dandelions you daren't pick or you know what will happen;
Sour docks that make a first-rate poultice for nettle-stings;
And flat-foot plantain in the back street,
gathering more dust than the dustmen.

Even the names are a folk-song:
Fat hen, rat's tail, cat's ear, old men's baccy and Stinking Billy
Ring a prettier chime for me than honeysuckle or jasmine,
And Sweet Cicely smells cleaner than Sweet William
though she's barred from the garden.

And they have their uses, weeds.
Think of the old, worked-out mines -
Quarries and tunnels, earth scorched and scruffy,
torn up railways, splintered sleepers,
And a whole Sahara of grit and smother and cinders.

But go in summer and where is all the clutter?
For a new town has risen of a thousand towers,
Sparkling like granite, swaying like larches,
And every spiky belfry humming with a peal of bees.
Rosebay willowherb:
Only a weed!

Flowers are for wrapping in cellophane to present as a bouquet;
Flowers are for prize-arrangements in vases and silver tea-pots;
Flowers are for plaiting into funeral wreaths.
You can keep your flowers.
Give me weeds!