Battling Buttercups – A Lesson on Weeds

Buttercups“Why do you build me up, Buttercup baby, just to let me down and mess me around, and worst of all, you never call, baby, when you say you will, but I love you still….” Song by the Foundations  (Want to listen: Clink this link  Buttercup song )

I have liked buttercups since I was a child. I have loved buttercups since Doug and I were married. I should probably say that Doug and I married the weekend after my college graduation.  We had summer jobs and I had a teaching job for the fall, but we had no money. Doug’s beloved uncle, Uncle Jack, had bought two cottages on Lake Chautauqua where for a month every summer Doug’s family vacationed.  So, when Uncle Jack, as part of a wedding present to us, offered us a week at the cottage, we were thrilled. We could have a honeymoon.

ClamXav_2.7.5Doug’s Aunt Carlie did not come with Uncle Jack to our wedding. Traveling was difficult for her, but when we arrived at the cottage, there in the center of the table was an enormous bouquet of buttercups. Aunt Carlie told me that at the moment we were saying our vows she was picking them as a gift for us.

Yellow is my favorite color and, as I said in my last post, I have a fascination with light. Somehow, at the moment we saw them, a shaft of sunlight illuminated their joyous cheerfulness. It seemed like a blessing, a prediction of a sunny life together for us.

Now, after many happy years filled with lots of sunshine and our share of rain, I have been committing sacrilege.

When we moved to Edenton, our backyard was nothing much. Surrounded by trees, including an immense long leaf pine, it had a lot of shade, 2 gardenia bushes, 2 camellias, and a lot of bare chain link fence. As I worked at turning it into a garden, the first buttercup popped up in the grass. I was thrilled…a bit of blessing, I thought, on our life here.

What a mistake!  I always thought of fields of buttercups, but not that they could turn your lawn into a field!  My sister and I would pick them in the meadows behind our house, and hold the flower beneath our chins to see “if we liked butter,” a golden glow from the pollen on our chin a predictor of that. I taught this to my grandchildren as they picked the spring buttercups in my lawn, and we held them under our chins together.

Close buttercup copyOnly now, I know that abundant pollen is a warning: buttercups are invasive weeds, spread by pollen and by nodules below the ground in their roots.  They are almost impossible to kill with herbicides because they intertwine their roots with the roots of the grass. Kill the weed. Kill the grass. Tenacious and treacherous! (…so why did I build you up, buttercup, baby – Why?)

By the end of last summer, I looked around at spots of bare earth and finally acknowledged that my beloved buttercups had reached the point of choking out the grass.

That’s when it hit me like a ton of bricks: life is filled with weeds. Not just buttercups. Different weeds. Addictive weeds. Life weeds. And just like my buttercups all are seductive.  Many start by looking like flowers. Bad lovers, toxic family or friends, bad habits, the weeds of cigarettes, alcohol or drugs. overeating, overworking, all seduce us, make us think we need them in our lives, and make false promises of a happy sunny future together. But when anything starts to leave your life bare, taking over in unhealthy ways, it’s time to take action. If it limits you, redefines you, or hurts you, it’s a weed…no matter how much you love the color of its petals.

garden glovesI can fight Buttercups. In the big picture, this is comparatively small and doable . Other weeds, life weeds, or addictions may need real intervention, someone or something to help, real recovery time. But all weeds have to be battled or they take over, do injury, even kill. It may be a step by step, one day at a time battle, but if you keep going you can win, at least today, at least right now.

So, this week, I have been on my knees painfully trying to dig them up individually. Hour after hour, carefully wiggling, leveraging, trying to untangle them from the grass, I have been removing them. It’s been one battle at a time trying not to leave any roots to regenerate while trying to tamp back down dirt around the remaining grass to save it, with the clock ticking down till when the buttercups bloom and blow their pollen everywhere.

After at least 15Dead buttercups hours spent over the last week, I have taken out hundreds, and more hundreds remain. (This is a pile of 2oo – yes, I counted them and this is just one pile of many!)The grass is growing making it harder, and  I wonder how I did not realize this was a problem until it was an enormous one. Battling buttercups is more difficult than I could have ever imagined.

Yet in the midst of my battle, overnight it seemed, one plant managed to bloom. And guess what, despite all my effort, despite my aching back, my heart soared at the sight. Oh, I just couldn’t help it.  You see, buttercup,  “I love you still, you know I have from the start…”

I admit it. I still am so easily seduced. The first step to making a change is to admit the problem, and this is just a simple one.  Real life problems, real addictions are much harder.

I don’t know if you are battling any “weeds,” or love someone who is. If so, be patient with yourselves and them. You cannot remove someone else’s problems or pluck out the weeds in other’s lives. You cannot get rid of your own weeds overnight, and one may pop up again. The battle may be a long one. That’s hard but true. But you can be a truth teller, you can call a weed a weed. You can refuse to plant any more weeds yourself, and you can offer support and caring to someone in the midst of the fight. Not easy, this is not easy…and not every battle will be won.

I have a laborious but easy one, so time to go back to my garden. I hope I win my battle. I pray you win yours.

Info on buttercups by agriculturist


About joanneeddy

Writer living in North Carolina. Originally from upstate New York. I love my family, my community, and my friends, and embrace 'living deliberately' in the world, trying to make a difference. I have written an as yet unpublished book, The Call, an epic fantasy with historical fiction and folklore elements. My blog is for other writers, for those who love a good read, and for all who, like me, are looking to find and live their call.
This entry was posted in Inklings and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Battling Buttercups – A Lesson on Weeds

  1. tedmanzer says:

    Great post! Everyone battles weeds both literally and figuratively.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Buttercups and dandelions….yes, my husband is sad enough to dig them out individually! Me, I don’t really care and so leave him to it!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I can so relate, Joanne. We have an invasive buttercup-like weed here that I thought was so pretty. Now I’m inundated. My flower garden is a sea of buttercups and the roots are so tough. I’m unsure whether it’s worth battling. I might just settle for a buttercup garden 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  4. annj49 says:

    Loved this post too. ❤
    Just a bit sad that they have to go….
    Loved listening to the buttercup song again. It has been too many years!
    I do love buttercups. I might be taking pics of them if I come across them while walking around.
    Last year it was dandelions that caught my attention and I ended up posting on them in a blog 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Years ago, I taught gardening to a group at the local senior center and one of them, Paula, said there was no such thing as a weed. Weeds were just wildflowers according to her. She refused to weed our raised gardens and even planted some of her own “flowers” when no one was looking. The other seniors were quite angry with her. To keep peace, I decided to put aside a plot of land for her where she could transplant the weeds (wildflowers) and tend to them. Needless to say, long after she has been gone, her garden flourishes. I live in the woods and my “grass” is filled with “wildflowers”. I’ve given up. I do love your analogy to our real-life situations and now I am going to listen to the buttercup song once more. Clare

    Liked by 1 person

    • joanneeddy says:

      I may have told you that when I moved here (from Zone 5a to 8a) I had to relearn gardening so I took Master Gardener classes, and I learned so much! We have a couple of “crunchy granola” back to the earth, all wild/natural kind of gardeners. Now, I do compost and grow organically, but at least in our MG class we learned anything that grows where you don’t want it is a weed. (Besides buttercups, before I took the class I panted some cana a friend gave me – another big mistake! They also are “flourishing.” It was great when they covered the chain link fence…but now they, too, want a piece of the yard.) Yeah, guess I need to go listen to the buttercup song again, too! Jo

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jo, I knew nothing until I retired and took the Master Gardener Course at URI. I’ve taken additional course on Natives and Invasives.
        I have a weed (Bishop’s Weed) that is taking over some of my gardens and I know I have to get out and attack. But there’s snow on the ground, so it won’t be happening this week. Clare

        Liked by 1 person

      • joanneeddy says:

        I really don’t miss that snow in the spring thing! The latest we had snow in Syracuse when we lived there was one Mother’s Day! Of course, we also averaged 110 inches a season. Edenton is on the Albemarle Sound and only has occasional snows (Raleigh where our kids and grandkids live gets more.) I loved the MG classes and we have monthly workshops on loads of topics (Pruning has been a revelation to me!) I don’t know Bishop’s weed. Our biggest nightmare are vines (Ivy, honeysuckle, trumpet vine, greenbriar and a couple of others with tuberous roots and thorns!) Jo

        Liked by 1 person

      • I haven’t been to any meetings or classes because of other commitments, but I may start back again some time this summer. Lots more to learn. Sun is hot, air is cold, but the snow is melting! We usually don’t do outside planting until the end of May because of late frosts. I may do some window boxes with icicle pansies, though.

        Liked by 1 person

      • joanneeddy says:

        What zone are you? We couldn’t plant in Syracuse till the end of May either. We actually get to plant pansies in November and they bloom through the winter spreading and keep blooming till May or June depending on how hot it gets. We really get to garden except December -February.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Very envious! We’re in Zone 5-6. Although we’re a small state, the southern part, where I am, runs along the ocean and is a bit more temperate.Today, we went up to the interior of the state and there was a lot more snow on the ground When we got home, the snow in our driveway had already melted.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s