Monday, 19 March 2012

ruderals in my garden have rights

Today I've come across a word I've been needing for years. But I didn't know I needed it. The word is ruderals.

I'm reading a book, Gardening Philosophy for Everyone, that has literally changed the way I see the world. I enjoyed the first chapter, 'The Virtues of Gardening', because it validates my belief that it is a 'good thing' to garden - more about that another time. However, it's chapter three, 'Escaping Eden - Plant Ethics in a Gardener's World', that has allowed me to realise that plants, too, are living, autonomous beings, entitled to consideration from humans.

I try to live in harmony with the environment, enriching the soil of my garden with natural substances and caring for the soil, but since I've read this chapter it's as if my eyes are open to the life force of the plants around me and I see them more vividly. I'm loving the experience.

What we call weeds are also entitled to our consideration.
In order to overcome exclusion and human mastery of the plant kingdom and the natural world, care, attention, and responsibility need to be extended outwards from our "cultivated" plants towards those plants that keep on coming back into our Edens from the wild lands outside... [This] requires giving over space to those plant lives that make their way into our gardens of their own accord: the wildflowers, grasses, climbers, and ruderals. It requires giving space and being open to the spontaneous arrivals and actions of plants that are not completely under human control. Setting aside space for plants to grow unchecked can help transform Eden from a human orientated space into one that is at the forefront of ethical reparations to the natural world.
Hmm...I will have to think about this. I've certainly got plenty of plants in my garden that arrived of their own accord, and when I recognise a seedling as useful to me, I tend it. But to allow that pesky Blue Periwinkle to spread around my garden is a big ask.

On the other hand, if I just keep it in check and let it have a corner of the yard, maybe I could make life easier for myself.

And what are these ruderals?

After consulting the Online Macquarie Dictionary I discover:
ruderal - adjective - growing near human habitations in waste places. [New Latin rūderālis, from Latin rūder-, rūdus broken stone, rubble] says:
1. (adj.) ruderal
(of a plant) growing in waste places, along roadsides, or in rubbish.

2. (n.) ruderal
a ruderal plant.

Etymology: (1855–60; < NL rūderālis < L rūder- (s. of rūdus broken stone, rubble)
Aha! Those periwinkles are ruderals. They're creeping under my fence from the untended laneway at the back of our property.

Since I've learned this word I seem to see vacant land everywhere, carpeted with living green. (We've had good rain the last few months, thank goodness.)

It's all in the name, as I've said before about weeds.


proud womon said...

fascinating as always parlance...

i had never heard the word before - when i first saw it i thought you must have made a 'typo'!!!!

parlance said...

proud womom, I tried the word out on a friend who, long ago, did an agriculture degree, and she hadn't heard of it, so I think we shouldn't feel bad that we'd never heard it, lol.

Papillon Bleu said...

These wild flowers are my favourite I have to confess. They are tough and are always here even if I have been a bit neglectful or the weather not so kind to Nature.

You know? I have followed your advice on my last post. Thank you, now there is a photo for posterity.

parlance said...

Oh, Papillon Bleu, I must come over and see the pink camera!