In spring, sections of the lawn were covered with purple, and I thought to myself how delightful it was. I read about these little violets and to my surprise found out that they are largely considered a weed. But what is a weed, I wondered.
There is no definitive list of which plants are weeds: weedness is in the eye of the beholder. We (in the U.S.) have been conditioned to think that lawns must be free of any plant that isn't the fine-blade grass we now worship. It hasn't always been like this, as Michael Weishan points out:
The first lawns were just mown pasture; whatever flowers or
“weeds” existed were let be. Later in the 1800s, nurseries
began to sell specialized seed mixtures. The lovers of the
monotone lawn that modern chemicals produce would no
doubt wince at the mixture for a perfect lawn given by
Frank Scott in 1876:
12 quarts Rhode Island bent grass
4 quarts creeping bent grass
10 quarts red top
3 quarts sweet vernal grass
2 quarts Kentucky blue grass
1 quart white clover
In Green-Wood, we tend to let these violets live.
And I saw these trumpet-shaped flowers the other day dotting the lawn near 9th Ave. I think it's field bindweed. I hope it's one of those that gets to survive as well.
I love these weeds.