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Monday Postcard #263 – Unkraut

Monday Postcard #263 – Unkraut

Monday Postcard 263 Unkraut

Even though I am not the most talented person at gardening, I do love flowers. In a nice bouquet, in a pot, as a wreath. But I enjoy them the most during my walks in nature. You may have seen my countless flower pictures on Instagram or on the cover pictures for my Monday Postcards. While I do love a beautiful park or a groomed English garden, the most beautiful flowers are the wild ones; those which unexpectedly cross your path. Most of the time, these are not the flowers with a particular “heritage” or “family tree”, these are the “ordinary” ones. Or, they are what we call in German: “Unkraut”.

“Unkraut” means “weeds” and it is a term for those flowers people did not plant intentionally – the ones which grow in between the groomed roses or lilies and the ones which are tough to get rid of. We even have a saying in German “Unkraut vergeht nicht” which translates to “weeds are hard to get rid of” and it refers to somebody who is facing a hard time but keeps fighting. “Kraut” means herbs or cabbage and the prefix “un” is a negation meaning “not”; it basically means “not herbs” and it has a negative connotation.

Tree in front of painted sky

Most Austrians prefer a well-groomed garden – with a nice lawn, clear zones for the decorative flowers. I do enjoy it too, but I also think it is nice if you have one spot in your garden with a wild flower meadow. Not only because of the many colours but also because of all the butterflies, bees and other insects you will get to see.

I wonder who defined what is Unkraut and what is a “real” flower or plant? I guess somebody once started with a list of “worthy” flowers and the ones they did not plan for were called Unkraut. Some of the most beautiful plants I saw where Unkraut – I recently walked by a giant thistle “tree” with its branches stretching up high towards the sky. I also used thistle to stage some of the baskets I sold at Pelagona. Sometimes, I play a game where I wonder which plant or flower represents myself best. In the category “Non-Unkraut-Flowers” I would probably be a pink honeysuckle or a disco-pink hibiscus. But I think I am rather a type of Unkraut. Maybe one of the big thistles I just mentioned. 

Giant thistle
A giant thistle “tree” which crossed my path recently.

I think Unkraut has a bad reputation which it does not deserve. Probably it is just bad marketing or PR. The reason why people do not like it is actually an amazing trait: it can grow practically anywhere, which means no matter the conditions, Unkraut will make it work. Even if you rip it out, it will most likely grow back. Even if it is not wanted, as it may be an “inconvenience” to the eye or to the plants next to it, “Unkraut” does not take it personally. Hence, whatever you throw at Unkraut, no matter the challenges, it keeps hustling. Even though people say it is ugly, Unkraut grows tall and shows its unique blooms. Some Unkraut has little thorns which may make it look dangerous, but maybe it they are just there to protect their blooms which are as delicate as the ones of roses, lilies or hydrangeas. Unkraut does not conform to any beauty standards. It has defined its own style and beauty. Some may find it ugly, but we know that uniqueness always comes with beauty. Just because Unkraut cannot be put into certain shapes like boxwood or does not grow how you want it to grow (like the roses around a garden gate), it does not make it ugly. It has its own mind. 

Thinking about all of this, I think Unkraut is the coolest of all plants. I aspire to be like Unkraut – I may have some small thorns just as a matter of self-protection. Sometimes, me and my views may be seen as an inconvenience. But I will stand tall next to all the other plants who “conform”. And I hope that my eclectic colours and attitude will give you as much joy as the big thistle tree which recently crossed my path.

Which plant are you? Are you team “Unkraut” too?

Work mode

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