Perceptions: Roses and Dandelions; How Are Weeds Defined?

I have been reading for years about the therapeutic benefits of gardening, but for years I thought  I didn’t have that required “green thumb.”  No matter how often I watered my plants,I always managed to kill them! One day, an experienced gardener suggested I read the instructions, because, just like people, not all plants  required the same amount of water, sun or shade. Hmm… that made sense, I knew all about suffocating my children with overprotecting them. Perhaps I was over watering the plants, just as I was “over” protecting my daughters. The same principle applied to gardening: to give them what THEY needed,not what I thought they did.

The small yard in the back of my house has never been cultivated. Frankly, it looked like a war zone, with the exception of several yellow dots in the very back of the yard.

“Are they flowers?”Yellow is such a happy color, I wish there were more of them, to make the whole yard look happier!

On closer examination… disappointment: Dandelions! Weeds! More work for me, to uproot them, make sure I threw them away in a place from where they could not come back to suffocate the beautiful roses I was going to plant!

Yes… I thought, dandelions were just weeds… or were they? Who decided what qualifies something as a weed? as beautiful? useful? Who were the deciders of fates?

Dandelion, I read in Medline Plus, is a beneficial herb, not a weed! It has been used for years for loss of appetite, upset stomach, intestinal gas. Although there isn’t sufficient “scientific” evidence, it seems to successfully treat viral infections. It is even used in salads, as a green, and the roasted root is a substitute for coffee.It is known to decrease inflammation and as a diuretic, increasing the flow of urine is used in preventing urinary track infections (UTIs).

Of course, Med Line warns against using too much of it, and not using it if pregnant, and if someone is allergic to ragweed… well chances are they are also allergic to dandelion.  

I look at the happy, yellow flowers again, with respect. Not only were they useful, even the roots, but they were sturdy, they didn’t give up easily, perhaps because they knew their own value. So… how and who defined them as weeds? Perhaps, there were no weeds, it was just our perception and if we knew any better, we would change our definitions.

Based on my newly aquired knowledge I harvested the dandelions and put them in a place of honor, on the kitchen table, to dry.

I admired the back yard. The ground was smooth, now that the dandelions were removed .I added to the ground more potting soil, mixed with coffee grinds, which I faithfully saved every morning after I drunk my coffee.The entire operation is done on intuition and faith: I don’t understand the chemistry of it, and  totally rely on experienced gardeners’ advice that such combination is excellent for plants.    

I don’t have gloves, but stubborn as a weed, I plant rose bushes. Red, white, yellow, pink,  their delicate beauty protected by thorns. No one, ever classified roses as weeds… Revered in love songs, their dreamy beauty, the subject of famous metaphors.Any woman would be flattered to be compared to a rose.

Rose, a baby’s name chosen in hopes the daughter will grow up to be Miss America or Miss Universe! An appropriate name for a Beauty Queen!. My sense of humor, the constant of my character, which helped me step out of the rockiest events of my life and “smell the roses,” even if the fragrance was imaginary, stepped in again:

What if the name of Miss America was Dandelion? Would that change its status to a most revered plant?

As the day went by, a hot, humid summer day, and my air conditioner was not working, my mind continued to dance around the concepts of how was value determined, who determined it, and what it would take to change or question a deeply rooted belief?

Did we determine value by physical beauty alone? Persistence, an appreciated  quality in humans  was enough to classify dandelion as a useless weed, in spite of its qualities?

Are we that superficial?

Then, because it was really hot, and really humid and I was really bored and had a sense that this post needed more to make it meaningful to some degree, my mind wondered back to roses, whose only Known quality so far, was their physical, well guarded, beauty.

My eyes continued to linger on the “in progress” landscape of the back yard, “in the here and now,” in a suburb of Harrisburg, PA, USA, but my soul traveled many, many years back, in Iasi, Romania, and I inhale the fragrance of a white rose my grandmother left on my pillow every morning…

The delicate petals, which after a few days fell on the bed side table…what happened to them? Was this the end of the cycle?

Suddenly, the fragrance of the roses changed into a sweet, floral taste!

I typed in Google ( I continue to like Google, in spite of Bing’s  efforts to demonstrate they are the best): ROSE PETALS JELLY!!!!

Alas! several web sites popped- up. I choose Martha Stewart’s ( 

and here’s her rose petal jelly recipe:

2 Cups water

3 Cups unsprayed PINK rose petals (remove the thicker base of the petals)

1 1/2 Cups sugar

1/4 Cup fresh lemon juice

3 ounces liquid pectin

1 Table spoon rose water

In a pan, bring the 2 cups of water to a boil, remove from heat and add petals. Cover pan and steep for 30 minutes liquid and discard the petals. Add sugar, lemon juice to the clear liquid and boil on medium for 2 minutes. Add liquid pectin and continue to stir for another 2 minutes on medium high heat.The composition thickens. Remove from heat, pour in the rose water and cool.

Place in jar and storage in refrigerator for up to 5 months.

Now… I have two questions, and if any of the readers of this post happen to have an answer, please share.

I do NOT know if ONLY pink petals may be used, and I am not sure where to get the rose water. I am thinking that just boiling some petals and letting them steep would do the trick? Anyway, this is not the point of the post.

What is the point?

I hope to have stirred in my readers a desire to question how do we determine what’s valuable and what is not. Perhaps, if we took the time to learn about  “something” or “someone,” in detail, there would be  no weeds, only different perspectives and in everything we experience, we would find values. The point of this post is to question ourselves if,  may be, in our desire to find the valuable, we miss that which we seek.