Last week I had the privilege of speaking to a group of 7thgraders. 100 of them! They were planning/designing /installing a Native Garden at their school. I was there to give them some schpeal.
They were incredibly knowledgeable about the subject. They understood diversity, and how animals and insects depend on certain flowers to exist. They even knew that we (humans) were the biggest killers of butterflies due to our chemical use.
What they were a little foggy about was what to do with weeds. Of course if you spray with chemicals, you are risking killing the wild flowers you want. Which are, by the way, glorified weeds. So I asked them if they had a garden plot with some grasses, some daises, some blue flowers, and some dandelions, which one was the weed? My hair nearly blew back as they all loudly proclaimed the dandelion as the villain.
"But what about the bees that like to eat from the dandelion flowers?"
Some mumbling spread through the auditorium.
"Although a dandelion is non-native, might it hold some value?"
An energy of resistance.
"But why does a butterfly get to live and a dandelion needs to be killed?"
"But shouldn’t we try not to use chemicals in our wildlife friendly garden?"
"My Dad says they are WEEDS!" a boy near the front exclaimed.
More restlessness ensued.
"If I saw a dandelion, I would stomp on it!" said another boy, with great conviction.
A girl near the front said very quietly "I think the butterflies like them too."
Our youth is already forming opinions about the chemical habit that kills the weeds that feed our butterflies, pollinators and bees. But, maybe I saved a few of them from the jaws of "The Perfect American Lawn". Wanna help?
Meadows. Let’s grow meadows in our front yards. ~Erica