Volunteers…or scavengers

Tom’s rose“I am pretty sure this rose is dead,” said my neighbor, who had come out back to walk his dog. He fingered the rose bush that overwintered in our basement and shook his head.

“But whatever’s growing around it is doing really well,” I said, looking down from my small back porch onto the prolific thicket around the base of the stunted rose.

“What do they call these things, anyway,” Tom said. “You know, these plants that just grow when you don’t want them to?”

“Weeds?” I asked.

“No,” he said. “Well, yes. Weeds. But there’s another word. Scavengers, maybe?”

I furrowed my brow. Then the word came to me. “Volunteers?”

“Yes,” he said. “Volunteers. I knew it had a lot of syllables.”

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8 Responses to “Volunteers…or scavengers”


  1. 1 Lydia June 22, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    I love volunteers in my garden. After all, those are the plants that chose to be there!

  2. 2 Jeanne June 22, 2007 at 1:06 pm

    I have a beautiful poppy that volunteered for duty in my garden a few years ago. It found a great spot and has flourished beautifully!

    I’m all for volunteers!

  3. 3 Me June 22, 2007 at 4:52 pm

    Lots of syllables. :)

  4. 4 Carol June 23, 2007 at 6:18 am

    Volunteers are nice, if you need volunteers. But sometimes you don’t, then they are pests, thugs, nuisances, even weeds! Or they could become passalong plants. You just never know what you are going to get with volunteers!

  5. 5 steven June 23, 2007 at 8:09 am

    Some of the best things in my garden are volunteers, there’s the arugula that springs up here and there and I have parsley, cilantro and the odd tomato as well. The best volunteer so far is a cherry tree that I found at the back of the yard in some bushes, not many cherries, but a nice surprise.

  6. 6 Rachel June 24, 2007 at 4:35 am

    I lurve volunteers…as a mom of young children with minimal time to work on my garden. Annual volunteers in my small garden are cherry tomatoes, arugula, kale, dill, parsely, summer savory and poppies and cosmos.

  7. 7 Connie June 24, 2007 at 4:39 pm

    Love, love, LOVE volunteers! They are the basis of my flower garden. It gets a little wild looking sometimes, but always has something in bloom!

  8. 8 inadvertentgardener June 26, 2007 at 6:52 pm

    Lydia, what a wonderful way to think about it! Excellent perspective…

    Jeanne, ooh…a volunteer poppy…I would love one of those!

    Me, glad you got a chuckle out of that. So did I. :-)

    Carol, one gardener’s volunteer is another gardener’s invasion…

    Steven, that’s very cool about that cherry tree. I love the story of your volunteer arugula, too, especially with what people pay for it at the store.

    Rachel, that’s a terrific list of volunteers! I agree — much easier if you don’t have a lot of time to plant.

    Connie, I am a fan of the disorganized garden, particularly if it means you have something blooming at all times. Great stuff!


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