Do you have the capacity to look around your own home and back yard and find exquisite beauty in it? Seven-year-old Anwyn Davis of Wellfleet has invented a way to explore those nearby worlds to find magic in places where we may least expect it.
“Anwyn has always been very inquisitive about Mother Nature, often asking questions that I need Google’s help with,” her mother, Arozana Davis, says. “She was probably around four when she asked me what a weed was. When I explained that a weed is generally a plant species deemed an unsightly nuisance, Anwyn wasn’t happy. As far as she was concerned, many weeds in our garden were flowers.”
That was when Anwyn began digging up weeds in her family’s yard and creating her own special “weed gardens,” featuring those generally unwanted plants. She has created many weed gardens in her yard as well as in planters. These days, Anwyn’s younger brother, Rayf, who is three, helps her and also creates some designs of his own.
“On sunny days, they both go off and wander the yard in search of weeds that, in their opinion, are beautiful, or cool looking, or funny looking,” their mother says. Anwyn carefully studies the weeds she chooses, noting that often they look quite a lot like respectable flowers she has seen before. The “poppers” that are in bloom right now, she says, resemble lilies-of-the-valley.
As a parent, Davis says, “The neatest thing for me is to watch the kids explore the garden and nature more closely and look at things differently. They’re discovering species that you would normally just walk past without paying attention.” The details Anwyn notices include the shape of blossoms, the size of leaves, and the structure of roots.
Anwyn says children and adults can create magical weed gardens. The best part, she says, is that you don’t need anything except a tool to dig with — a small shovel, a spoon, or even just your hands — and an eye for tracking down beautiful weeds.
“First you have to find a good spot,” she says. “You need a place where the ground isn’t too hard or where there is too much sand. You can also put soil on top of your place so it’s not too hard to dig a hole for your weed.”
Then, she says, you carefully search your yard for a weed that you think is pretty. “When you have found a weed that you like, that you want to take out and put in your weed garden,” she says, “you have to dig as deep as the weed’s roots go.”
If you are planting your weeds in the ground, not in a planter, Anwyn adds, “You have to make sure people know not to pull up those weeds or mow the lawn over them.” She marks their spots with sticks and stones.
One thing Anwyn says is good to know is that, in addition to how pretty weeds are, they can survive without being watered for longer than flowers from a garden store.
“We have a butterfly bush in our yard,” she says. “One year I clipped off a branch with a flower on it and stuck it in the ground in my weed garden. When I went to go check on my weed garden the next year, I pulled up that stick and it had roots.” If you want to try that, it might be good to water the garden a bit more, she suggests.
You can decorate your weed garden with tiny figures, shells, special stones, or anything else that you would like to add. But don’t forget that the weeds are pretty all on their own.