May 2023

Now is the month of Maying, when merry
lads are playing,” and serious gardeners turn
to growing. And weeding. I confront the
goutweed, “the cockroach of the gardening

Mrs. M. Grieve’s A Modern Herbal calls it “a common pest of orchards, shrubberies and illkept gardens.”

The patch under the weeping cherry in my own ill-kept garden gets busy early, smothering hostas, ferns, and astilbe as they try to emerge. The mayapples, in the same patch, seem to have made an alliance with it and are mimicking its reproductive fervor.

I enjoy the mayapples, but I want the non-allied plants to flourish too. The goutweed mocks me. Hundreds of scurrying runners thread their way in all directions beyond that carpet, under and among the roots of other legitimate garden denizens, emerging above-ground where they will. I go on the attack first with a shovel, and then with trowel, snake-tongued weeder, and both hands.

On my knees I enter into a silent dialogue with the goutweed, commenting on how resilient it is, how persistent, how clever, how dastardly - and how creative. Creativity is May’s theme. The creative insidiousness it displays is what lets it flourish, shooting off underground and popping up in so many places I can’t possibly find and uproot it all.

There is creativity everywhere, and I remind myself to see and find joy and wonder in it and in the burgeoning world all around me. Perhaps even for a moment in my sly green nemesis the goutweed. May you find joy as spring burstsforth, and in your own creativity. It is a blessing for me to serve as your minister.