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Interesting. "Cultivated plants....are pets." So you could say that cultivated plants are dogs, and weeds are cats! I like that.

I teach a weed workshop to fellow Master Gardeners and the public, and my favorite definition is the third one in this publication that I use as one of the handouts:


  • a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered

I echo Mr. Mabey's sentiments.


"despite the fact they need us to exist, both physically and philosophically, they will not play by our rules."

Sounds like teenagers.

Heh. The cultivated plants are pets thing reminds me of my first year of vegetable gardening. I had started out as a native plant/water conservation person first and foremost. I tried to grow a pitcher plant long before I ever tried to grow a tomato.

So when I started out with veggies, I treated them the same way I treated all my plants---they got water when they went in the ground, supplemental watering for the first couple of weeks, and then they were on their own, unless we hit such a major drought that spot watering was called for. That was how plants worked, as far as I was concerned!

Well, it worked with the basil. Otherwise I got bell peppers the size of golfballs and jalapenos that could kill cows. A friend finally explained to me that vegetables were like domestic animals. You have to water them ALL THE TIME and feed them and stake them and generally treat them like a not-very-bright housepet.

It came as a bit of a shock.

Hmmm, I think Richard Mabey and I would get along real well. In this drought, anything including weeds that will simply survive is spared in my garden. Plus, when I was raising rabbits I learned so much about which weeds were edible and which weren't such that I've developed an appreciation for many of them.

If my dog were a plant, she'd be a wild rangy invasive weed and that's specifically why I like her so much. ;-)

Great interview with a very interesting person. Give us more! Thanks.

Another bon mot: "A weed is no more than a flower in disguise."
-the dandelion, for example. Lush, green, and hardy, with bright yellow flowers- all that, and edible, too!

I garden in partnership with Nature- she sets the course, and I merely offer assistance when things get a bit boisterous.

I think you'll find Doug Talley is actually Douglas Tallamy, a fine writer and brilliant lecturer.

Mr. Mabey sounds like a very interesting man! I especially like his pet-plant comparison - definitely brings about some interesting mental images.

I wonder what plant my fat, lazy, occasionally bitey and LOUD tabbycat would be, hm.

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