Anyone who has maintained a garden or small farm knows that with all the work it takes to keep up on the garden itself, outlying areas can quickly become overtaken by weeds. Low on the list of priorities, areas outside of our garden borders are ideal locations for wild urban vegetation to thrive. Pulling all the weeds within the garden is a big enough task as it is; thus, weeds out of our reach are left to their own devices, occasionally getting mown down by a string trimmer or brush mower (if time allows), but otherwise living largely unscathed. And so, places such as these are excellent for familiarizing oneself with our wild urban flora.
I found an example of this scenario at the Ahavath Beth Israel Synagogue Garden in Boise, Idaho. This community garden is a partnership between Congregation Ahavath Beth Israel (CABI) and Global Gardens, providing refugees in the area an opportunity to grow food for their families and participate in community activities.
When I visited this site, it was clear that the weeds on the edge of the garden had been mowed down at some point. New plants had popped up after the fact while others were in the process of recovering from the “haircut” and putting on new, shrubbier growth. The mowing and the fact that it was late in the summer made identifying remnants of earlier weeds too difficult to bother. Most of the weeds that I did find were either summer annuals or perennials. A visit in the spring would reveal an entirely different cast of characters.
I stayed on the border of the garden, not wanting to invade anyone’s plot or snoop around too much. The point of the visit was to highlight weeds found outside of the borders of a garden anyway. I would imagine that, since the garden is used to grow annual fruits and vegetables, most of the weeds in the beds would be annuals as well. Longer-lived weeds don’t generally tolerate regular disturbance and instead find refuge in unkept areas outside of cultivation.
Below are a few photos from the site along with a preliminary list of the weeds that I found.
Weeds found at the Ahavath Beth Israel Synagogue Garden:
- Amaranthus spp. (pigweed)
- Bassia scoparia (kochia)
- Chenopodium album (lamb’s quarters)
- Chondrilla juncea (rush skeletonweed)
- Convolvulus arvensis (field bindweed)
- Conyza canadensis (horseweed)
- Digitaria sanguinalis (crabgrass)
- Epilobium brachycarpum (tall annual willowherb)
- Euphorbia maculata (spotted spurge)
- Hordeum jubatum (foxtail barley)
- Lactuca serriola (prickly lettuce)
- Malva neglecta (common mallow)
- Medicago lupulina (black medic)
- Oenothera biennis (common evening-primrose)
- Plantago lanceolata (narrowleaf plantain)
- Polygonum aviculare (prostrate knotweed)
- Rumex crispus (curly dock)
- Setaria sp. (foxtail)
- Sonchus sp. (sow thistle)
- Taraxacum officinale (dandelion)
- Tragopogon dubius (salsify)
- Trifolium pratense (red clover)
- Ulmus pumila (Siberian elm)
- Verbena bracteata (prostrate vervain)
Like all posts in the Weeds of Boise series, this will be updated as I identify and photograph more of the weeds found in this location.