Recently, I was strolling along an idyllic path at my property, Wonderfield Farm and Grove, and stumbled upon this beautiful bush with pink flowers. My curiosity peaked as I wondered, “what is this beautiful little bush?” Well, thank you to Google Lens, because my curiosity was instantly satiated with a quick photo snap and Google search. What I found, surprised me. It was a weed! I discovered this little plant is known as Cesar’s Weed.
As I strolled on, I thought how beautiful that little weed was and that it provided me such joy. I realized in that moment, it’s not all about the roses.
As a novice permaculture farmer, I’m constantly learning how to apply permaculture design principles to the land. In permaculture, there is a strong emphasis on “whole systems design” which means, in simple terms, everything has its purpose. With this ethos, waste can be wealth, and weeds can be roses.
Jonathon Engels at Permaculture News writes, “Weeds, the word, may be a human construct, but the plants themselves are natural and have functional niches within the formation of ecosystems, not to mention a multitude of oft overlooked uses within our cultivation. It begins with how we decide to look at them.” He goes on to share that “weeds are indicators — weeds appear where they belong, where the ecosystem can support them and likely requires their services.” He writes that weeds are stewards of the soil, they promote diversity, and are food too!
To say “Stop and Smell the Weeds” adds a dynamic, (and much needed) fresh element to the original metaphor of stop and smell the roses. If you’re human, you’ve most likely had the realization that life isn’t perfect. There are a lot of gifts to open, wrapped in shitty wrapping paper. There are a lot of beautiful flowers to notice, that are undoubtedly weeds. There is a lot of growth to be had, as traumatic and painful as it can feel.
There are weeds to cherish, every single day — if we stop to notice them, appreciate them, and cherish them. Instead of waiting for the rose, or the raise, or the range rover… stop and smell the weeds, appreciate what you have, and cultivate gratitude for where, what and who you are.