Weed Day remains true to its roots

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By Sylvia Brockner

All during the long, cold spring, Community Weed Day is the day I have longed for.

This is a “what is so rare as a day in June.” Sun, an intensely blue sky, white puffy clouds and a crisp gentle breeze have combined to make this a “perfect” day. A few widely scattered showers cooled off the afternoon, but now the sun is out, and everything is “bright and beautiful” again.

Nothing can equal a high June day. Everything is green, fresh and clean. Spring was so late this year that when warm weather finally arrived, the deciduous trees and shrubs all burst into bloom and leaf at the same time. Within a matter of five days, the willows along Bear Creek opened buds, elongated catkins, produced pollen and new green leaves — an accomplishment that normally takes two weeks. The new leaves are as delicate as tissue paper and as shiny as patent leather.

Along with the trees, many of the spring wildflowers have burst into bloom. This past week, golden banner has been especially abundant, much later than usual but as beautiful as ever, and this brings me to the subject of weeds. Golden banner is on some noxious-weed lists, but this is a designation that I feel is disputable. Golden banner is a native plant. Yes, it can become a problem in pastures and rangeland, but that is largely due to mismanagement by man. It is usually overgrazing or other mistreatment of the land that gives golden banner a chance to take over an area. That is because it is exceedingly deep rooted, and when heavy traffic, overgrazing and drought cause other plants to die, golden banner’s deep roots often survive, sending out new shoots and flourishing without the competition of other plants. However, this should not condemn it to the noxious weed list.

We desperately need plants with the ability to help revegetate such badly treated areas.

Noxious weeds are by definition non-native plants that have found a niche here where they find growing conditions similar to their homelands. Because they have no plant-specific predators in this foreign land, they can grow and flourish in a manner that crowds out our native species. This definition does not include golden banner, which is a native plant, but it does include many weeds that people describe as beautiful, including oxeye daisy, goldenrod and dames rocket. Many people wonder and ask me if they really must pull these pretty weeds.

If you have ever seen several acres covered with oxeye daisies, you will understand the problem. Where a few daisies in a meadow are beautiful, acres of daisies are not. They crowd out all other plants and make a meadow unproductive. Natural meadows are speckled with a variety of forbs and grasses, thus providing habitat for a variety of insects and seeds to attract a variety of animals, birds and butterflies. A single crop of anything, be it oxeye daisies or cabbages, does not provide this diversity and therefore cannot produce a great diversity of life. If you really need daises in your grade, and I do, plant some of the horticultural species in your yard and then be sure to deadhead them before they go to seed, thus preventing their spreading.

Weeds grow rampantly in June, when conditions are perfect and all perennials are making rapid growth to assure flowering and producing more of their own kind. For this reason, the community weed awareness committee has always held its Community Weed Day in June. This year, the 10th annual Community Weed Day will be held from 8 to 11 a.m. Saturday, June 21, at the west end of the lawn at Evergreen Lake.

Plan to attend this morning in the park to learn more about weeds. There will be a display of most of the common weeds that you can examine and compare with those in your yard. You may also bring samples of weeds from your property to be identified and receive the best current information on how to control them.

Meet other people who are concerned about weeds, and help your community and our wildlife by helping to pull weeds at the lake. It is a social event that is fun in the sun and really benefits the community. For information, call Cathy Shelton at 303-674-8610 or Sylvia Robertson at 303-674-1715.