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  • Writer's pictureMj Pettengill

Plant Your Love and Let it Grow

Clover, Weeds, Wildflowers
Wildflowers, Clover, Weeds

As many of you know, I make wild plant medicine. I have a close connection to the plant world, and for a long time, I have considered a lawnmower to be a weapon of mass destruction. 

Do you know that beautiful scent of freshly mown grass? I am about to ruin the ambiance for you. This scent is not a gift to you from the plant world, inviting you to lie down and dream. No. This is a chemical reaction from the plant. Leafy plants release several volatile organic compounds called green leaf volatiles (GLVs)—the scent of trauma.

The grass has been mortally wounded and is trying to protect itself while sounding the alarm. It has come under attack by you, the one wielding the blades.

Because of my understanding of the plant world and the value of volunteers that show up for healing, I protect them. I have been known to swerve around flowers, apologize, yelp, and get generally bummed out when I cut one by mistake. But this became my responsibility. Before I became the keeper of the lawns, I used to stress out and sometimes throw myself in front of the mower to save some of my allies. If you ever want to get my attention, simply fire up a lawnmower. 

Then it was obvious. I needed to be the keeper of the lawns, the mower of grass, and the weed tender. So, for several years, I have happily mowed my way through various stretches, creating intricate labyrinths. I continue to gasp and apologize, but not as often as before. I save and transplant so that there is some order while maintaining the wildness that I respect and treasure.

Last year, my farm partner gave me a weed wacker for my birthday. I was stunned. After numerous debates surrounding the value of weeds, it was hard for me to imagine that he would think that I would go out and focus on explicitly killing weeds. That was a year ago. I never used it. I couldn't. I'm the only person I know who transplants and weeds weeds, and it's okay. The gifted tool was a clear nudge indicating that my gentle pulling of weeds needed a boost.

Over the past few years, I spent a great deal of time nurturing a specific patch of elderberry trees and various berry bushes. They were vulnerable because an incredibly invasive weed that had become a problem. It has no medicinal value and has been taking over. 

I am used to prolific plants getting the upper hand, like mugwort, but I honor it. I do get frustrated from time to time but have learned to accept it and make various medicinals with this potent plant. We are friends. The other plant is just out of control, an ornamental plant, not indigenous to the land. It's what I consider an outsider, an uninvited extrovert in our sacred space.

I thought long and hard about it. It was killing the elderberry and also crowding the roses. It had taken over where I used to have lilies of the valley and much more. So, this morning I thought, this is war.

I had never used this thing, this weed wacker, but I was prepared to learn. I was led to believe that it was the Cadillac of weed wackers, so I was ready. I read the operating instructions, and the battery was charged. I was good to go.

I went out and started my assault. I was shocked at how powerful this tool was. It immediately annihilated the plants—not for the faint of heart. I did not have command of it at all. I was absolutely covered with spattered plant guts. Granted, I had every intention of clearing that particular plant, but this was pure violence. 

So, I decided to try a different angle. It didn't matter. I had become a hitman or mercenary. This weapon was hardcore. I was also overwhelmed at the amount of pulp that had spattered on my entire being. It was one of those things where I could and couldn't do something at the same time. I wanted to get rid of those plants, but at the same time, I didn't. I managed to kill a handful of daisies, burdock, and a raspberry plant, for which I screamed, "I'm sorry!"

I was on the verge of tears. I wondered how people did this for a living. I suppose you get used to it. Not many people feel plants as I do. If so, what a jungle we would be living in!

For well over a decade, I have been gathering, nurturing, and loving wild plants. This experience overwhelmed me. I finished the killing spree and sat on the bench, peppered with plant debris, overlooking what appeared to be nothing more than a massively bad haircut. Luckily, it will grow back.


Let it Grow - Eric Clapton

Standing at the crossroads, trying to read the signs

To tell me which way I should go to find the answer

And all the time I know

Plant your love and let it grow

Let it grow, let it grow

Let it blossom, let it flow

In the sun, the rain, the snow

Love is lovely, let it grow

Looking for a reason to check out of my mind

Trying hard to get a friend that I can count on

But there's nothing left to show

Plant your love and let it grow

Time is getting shorter and there's much for you to do

Only ask and you will get what you are needing

The rest is up to you

Plant your love and let it grow.

Plant your love and let it grow.


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