A Weed by Any Other Name: The Virtues of a Messy Lawn, or Learning to Love the Plants We Don't Plant

A Weed by Any Other Name: The Virtues of a Messy Lawn, or Learning to Love the Plants We Don't Plant

by Nancy Gift

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Is that a weed? This question, asked by anyone who has ever gardened or mowed a lawn, does not have an easy answer. After all, a weed, as suburban mother and professional weed scientist Nancy Gift reminds readers, is simply a plant out of place. In A Weed by Any Other Name, Gift offers a personal, unapologetic defense of clovers, dandelions, plantains, and more, chronicling her experience with these "enemy" plants season by season.

Rather than falling prey to pressures to achieve the perfect lawn and garden, Gift elucidates the many reasons to embrace an unconventional, weedy yard. She celebrates the spots of wildness that crop up in various corners of suburbia, redeeming many a plant's reputation by expounding on its positive qualities. She includes recipes for dandelion wine and garlic mustard pesto as well as sketches that show the natural beauty of flowers such as the morning glory, classified by the USDA as an invasive and noxious weed.

Although she is an advocate of weeds, Gift admits that some plants do require eradication-she happily digs out multiflora rose and resorts to chemical warfare on poison ivy. But she also demonstrates that weeds often carry a message for us about the land and our treatment of it, if we are willing to listen.

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807097571
Publisher: Beacon Press
Publication date: 05/01/2009
Sold by: Penguin Random House Publisher Services
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 279 KB

About the Author

Nancy Gift is assistant professor of environmental studies and acting director of the Rachel Carson Institute at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she lives with her husband, two daughters, and a lawn full of weeds.


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Weed by Any Other Name: The Virtues of a Messy Lawn, or Learning to Love the Plants We Don't Plant 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
tjsjohanna on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I found this approach to living with the green world around us an interesting and balanced one. Ms. Gift suggests that we re-think our definitions of what is acceptable in our home yards, as well as giving balanced information of the costs and benefits of meeting our expectations. I liked that she takes what I regard as a balanced view of pesticides - sometimes they are the best and most cost-effective solution. But she is very frank about the costs of pesticides and points out that if we can develop tolerance for a different kind of lawn (and by extension world) we can make our surroundings safer, healthier, and in the end more interesting. After reading I felt a little better about my mediocre lawn that is this way mostly because we don't want to spend the money on fertilizer/weed spray. Now I can consider this a virtue!