A weed may be defined as ‘a plant out of place’. And one persons’ unwanted plant may be another’s medicine, food, soil builder or erosion controller.
Recently Sydney artist Diego Bonetto has been working on wild weed paper: hand-made paper embedded with hand-harvested weed seeds of many and varied species found in the Sydney basin…
There is a vast and wondrous debate to be had in our country on what constitutes weeds, how their definition is always dependant on perceived notions of best-practice land use, and whether we should see them as tools instead of pests.
David Holmgren has written extensively on weeds in permaculture, and there are many other noted Australian land-whisperers, like Peter Andrews, that point out the fact that weeds inherently repair landscapes (just not always on a timeframe acceptable to us) and as such can be manipulated and used to accelerate land restoration.
Diego has created his entire art practice around weeds, using them as a lens for society and our relationship with nature.
Diego also looks at weeds as the un-tapped bounty beneath our feet – food and medicine, everywhere we go, if you know where, and how, to forage and find…
Into the wild weed paper were randomly distributed the seeds of:
- Amarathus (amaranth)
- Conyza (fleabane)
- Taraxacum (dandelion)
- Sonchus (sowthistle)
- Rumex (dock)
- Plantago (plantain)
- Cirsium (thistle)
- Trifolium (clover)
As part of the proect, Diego worked with Mirra Whale, an artist of exquisite botanical persuasion, who drew the weeds back apon some of the leaves of paper…
Where will the project go next? Diego is a fairly weedy kind of guy – he finds a niche and fills it, always working with available resources, and grows the most unexpected things…
Diego Bonetto manages a weeds database at Weedy Connection but is currently most active over at Wild Stories. He does regular medicinal and edible weeds workshops, weed and mushroom foraging forays and weed identification walks in the Sydney basin.
Beautiful drawings! I love art because it stretches ones thinking. This art also stimulates you to look at using all resources around us, and observing closer, which can’t be a bad thing. I do hope however, that we are learning from our mistakes of introducing species into ecologies that are not meant to be together? I’m passionately all for a new way forward that is sustainable and caring for our environment. And yet, I wonder as I post this Wed morning 15th Aug, will my comment be allowed today? As happened when I commented on the goat article. Since then,… Read more »
Clover is never out of place in my garden, and same goes for nettle. Great post guys.
Mirra’s artwork is gorgeous. Thanks for sharing.
I’m learning to love weeds and agree that we should ‘see them as tools instead of pests’ – but only in some landscapes, namely those being used for food production or in highly degraded landscapes. However we need to always be conscious of their impacts on biodiversity in native bushland. I worry about the impact of letting weeds run wild (e.g. to facilitate land restoration) on adjacent native bushland.
The whole ‘what is a weed’ debate is definitely only going to get hotter.
What Tricia said. We need to think very carefully about how we use weeds. The loss of exquisite and unique Australian native plants to introduced species is heartbreaking. Working in bushland regeneration I have weeded almost all of the plants listed above and seen the return of native grasses and plants to areas previously overrun with introduced species. Please think very carefully about spreading weed species. In my experience they don’t need any assistance from us.
Reblogged this on Eremophila’s Musings and commented:
A fascinating project!
I feel for Colleen! It seems to me that it is only those that have come to love and connect with our Australian ecologies and have done some volunteer work weeding that seem to really understand how annoying, and even degrading to others – especially future generations – it is to promote weeds of any sort.
Yep, there’s lots of perspectives on the weed issue, and I have some bush regen friends who are pretty passionate about eradicating all species on the govt. lists for any area, whihc i find quite curious as some plants around here are deemed ‘weeds’ purely because, tho native, they’re not palatable to sheep, even tho the overgrazing of said sheep is wrecking our valleys and those weeds presence ensure small pockets of un-grazed ground, with lots of flow-on benefits to the greater landscape… I have to say we feel pretty connected to our ecology at Milkwood Farm, and some of… Read more »
uh! I see this post only now, thanks so much for the plug Kirsten! as for the good/bad specie debate that often enough ensue whenever I bring forward my project, I would like to say that the main aim of Wild Stories is to highlight the connections we have with the environment, as I believe at this time and age we need more then ever to reacquaint ourselves with what grows around us. In terms of my own personal stand on this argument I just would like to remind everyone of how hypocrite is at times the stand of many… Read more »
I love the weed paper!! Is it available for purchase (illustrated or unillustrated)?
We, the human race, are the worst plague on the face of the earth, but I guess none of us want to be first to be eradicated. The tragedy of loss of native species in an area because of an Introduced species taking over, is great, and I live with it every day. As long as we do not Intentionally introduce anything overwhelming, I guess we are doing as well as we can. To be informed about the potential results of our introductions, is all we can ask of each other. I planted Rhubarb outside the fence, as I had… Read more »