I had a meeting on Capitol Hill today and I took the opportunity to run over at lunchtime to the U.S. Botanic Gardens, one of my city’s many under-appreciated treasures. I always call it the Congressional Botanical Gardens, and it is directly in the shadow of the statue of Columbia, atop the U.S. Capitol. It shows just how important our Founders believed horticulture to be, that they set this space aside to collect all different kinds of plants.
Someone had set up a lovely, tiny exhibit entitled “What’s Growing” that had small vases of native plants that are currently in bloom. It’s no secret that one of the real joys of my life is my trip into work, past Spout Run, past the Potomac River, past T.R. Island, and into the heart of the city. One of the things I love is the chance to be in relationship with lots of local plants: grasses and weeds that most people (I fear) never even bother to see. One benefit of recent budget cuts (and I’m not ignoring the many problems that they’ve caused) is that there’s been less money to mow roadsides. And, so, local grasses and weeds are doing better and having a better chance to mature than they once did. (I know that we all (I know I do) have these lovely notions of being, as Pagans, in deep relationship with The Land, and, by “The Land,” we mean an amazing primeval forest, a mountain fastness, a circle of stones built upon the Ley lines, etc. But, really, there are traffic islands, roadsides, and bits of Earth next to parking lots that are full-to-bursting with plants, insects, minerals, animals, and every sort of fairey, genius locii, and dryad imaginable. And, as Richard Louv says, if you can’t be with the Land you love, honey, love the land you’re with.)
There’s a weed blooming all along the G.W. Parkway that I’ve been trying to identify. It’s got, just now, these v. small flowers, kind of purple, kind of white, that make almost a haze along the roadside. So I stopped at the exhibit, hoping to learn this weed’s name. No luck on that score, but the exhibit did teach me the name of another lovely grass that’s now in bloom all along the side of the roads: Virginia Switchgrass. Isn’t it amazingly lovely?
What weeds tie you to your landbase?