Weeds to Wildflowers


liatris and echinacea

“But a weed is simply a plant that wants to grow where people want something else. In blaming nature, people mistake the culprit.   Weeds are people’s idea, not nature’s.”
–  Anonymous

With all the rain and flooding we had this spring, I was unable to get to the weeding before those pesky weeds took a strong hold of my garden.  So when summer started and I barely had the front and side beds weeded and mulched, I took a survey of the back yard gardens.  Ugh…covered in weeds that were flowering and dropping seeds everywhere.  So what to do.  Well get on a strict schedule for weeding.  But Mother Nature had a different idea.  Drought.  Without the wet beds, the weeding would be difficult to manage and almost impossible to undertake in some areas.

I am not as knowledgeable about weeds as I should be with the bumper crop I am growing in the more natural areas of the yard.  So I bought a book to help me identify the weeds.  As long as I am growing them I want to know their names.  The book is Weeds of the Northeast by Uva, Neal and DiTomaso.  It has hundreds of weeds, pictures of flowers, leaves, seeds and lots of information about weeds.  And I certainly was thankful to know what was growing in my yard (hundreds of these plants), but I started to notice a few plants categorized as weeds that I would not consider a weed, but a native plant; violets, oxeye daisy, helianthus, common yarrow, milkweed, goldenrod, aster, honeysuckle to name a few.  Of course the definition of weed really is, ” a plant that is considered by the user of the term to be a nuisance, and normally applied to unwanted plants in human-controlled settings.”  In my meadow these plants are welcome.  In your garden or lawn, these and many others may not be welcome.

So for this  next week’s Wildflower Wednesday (hosted by Gail at Clay and Limestone), I thought I would show some of the wonderful weeds and wildflowers growing in my garden and meadow.  (Opps…I’ll link in next week when Gail is back)

First the weeds….

These plants are listed as weeds and I have to say that for me I agree.  Going clockwise from top left, the first one is vetch.  This is stunning to see in a meadow when in flower, but it wraps itself around a plant until it chokes it out.  Hard to get rid of.  Next is horseweed.  It has lovely daisy lie flowers, but again it will just take over a garden and for me is not wanted.  Next is a beloved plants of animals and pollinators, white clover.  It is a nuisance and can certainly take hold.  I will never rid the garden of clover and leave patches for the pollinators.  Rabbits need to eat the clover in the meadow and they have been warned.  The bottom picture resembles many weeds and wildflowers.  This one is yellow hawkweed.  it actually can be pretty, but also a pretty big nuisance.  Next are the pink flowers from hairy willowweed.  This another that takes over and spreads easily so alas I rip it out.  I always miss a few and realize it when I see the pink flowers.  The center picture is a prized plant for florists.  It is actually common teasel.  The dried flower heads which resemble a very large thistle are used in flower arrangements.  I was happy to have some growing in my meadow until they decided to choke out the other wildflowers and take over the second half of the meadow.  We are digging them out which is not easy given they are in hard dry clay.


Now the wildflowers…..


Lovely echinacea coming into bloom.  The drought has dried up many patches of echinacea especially those non-natives.  The Japanese beetles are also favoring this flower.  Can you see the little critter at the bottom of the picture?

My meadow with red milkweed, rudbeckias and helianthus.

White liatris blooming in the white garden that is partially shaded.  I love how these flowers start to bloom from the top down.

Heliopsis ‘Loraine Sunshine’ and red monarda are a favorite combination.  Can you see the red aphids?  The ladybugs are not doing their job in this garden.

My happy phlox in the front yard a week ago.  The drought is wreaking havoc on them now.  The phlox in the back yard have not bloomed yet.

Here is one of my favorite newer coreopsis, ‘Route 66’.  I love how the blossoms emerge yellow with a tinge of red and as they mature they become mostly red while underside stays yellow as you see here.


Queen Anne’s Lace



“Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them.”

–  A. A. Milne,  Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh







Special Note: All weeds and wildflowers pictured here are from my garden.  Flaunt your flowers at Tootsie Time this Friday where she hosts Fertilizer Friday.  I’ll be flaunting mine.

Monthly (usually around the 10th) I guest blog at Walkabout Chronicles.

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All content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.







  1. Donna says:

    I have admiration for some weeds too. The flowers are all not small and ratty. My phlox has yet to blossom, but the heat has knocked back the powdery mildew somewhat, but also prevented the blooms. I am about to break down and water the backyard. I did the front yard a couple of days ago. We did not get the rain. 95° predicted for tomorrow with a heat index of 105°. The humidity is the killer.

    • Donna says:

      I think I admire the tenacity of the weeds the most. They seem to flourish no matter the extreme conditions. Sorry to hear you missed the rain. We had a nice soaking 3 times that day. The heat though has been blistering with heat indexes in the 100s and tomorrow we are set for a record of perhaps 100 with a heat index of 110-115°. I agree the humidity is keeping me indoors. At least the mildew may be kept at bay but so are my blooms as well..not keeping the tomato blight at bay though ;(

  2. Karin/Southern Meadows says:

    Love the quotes! Weeds are definitely in the eye of the beholder…I am vacationing in Michigan right now where Queen Anne’s Lace grows everywhere. I love this plant but it is considered a weed by most here and on the invasive plat list. I am guilty of liking many of these plants that are considered “weeds”.

    • Donna says:

      Michigan is beautiful. We used to go to a camp as kids for a week in Michigan when I lived in Indiana. I am letting Queen Anne in the meadow and white garden for now. Some weeds/wildflowers are on the invasive list in some states so we do have to be careful which is why I think some of the wildflowers make it to the weeds list. Glad you enjoyed the post…

  3. Gabrielle@flowerbulbcrazy says:

    OOOH! I would love to frame your first photo of the orange echineacea and the liatris! I love orange & purple together in the garden!
    PS My mother has always loved queen anns lace, we always used to have a vase of them in the house in colored water to stain them!

    • Donna says:

      I love that color combo too…so glad you loved it…you brought back childhood memories with the colored water and Queen Ann’s Lace…totally forgot that… 🙂

  4. Cathy says:

    I just bought this book this spring and it’s definitely a keeper, but I agree, what I consider “wildflowers” are in some cases, listed as weeds.

    I try to learn to appreciate and welcome those I can control (some wood sorrel here and there, lots of violets, some spurge). But I do have to control the invasive tendancies of some of these, as I’m sure you do too. 😉

    • Donna says:

      I so agree about the invasives and learning what is an invasive weed that we have to control…other wise I just love those wildflowers!!

      • Cathy says:

        Us too!!! Especially in our water garden! We’ve actually gone and potted some weeds – like red dock and curly dock – for the bog garden. The key is keeping them potted….

  5. Larry says:

    Thank you for the fave… I’ve enjoyed looking over your site, will become a follower, and study it in more depth. Larry

  6. One says:

    This is so strange. Your weather is hotter than mine now. It’s amazing how plants can thrive in such fluctuation of temperature. Love your weeds or wildflowers. I cannot imagine how then can become invasive when Winter would arrive again in a few months’ time.

    • Donna says:

      The Earth’s climate is indeed strange these days. A whole week of 90s and high humidity with heat indexes in the 100s. TH we had 101 and the heat index was 115. Today we are still in the mid 90s. Oh believe me some of these plants can become invasive. They lay down their seeds and are so adaptable that they start growing right away in early spring choking out the other plants. Any plant can do that given the right conditions. So when I do not plan carefully or weed right away, I can have trouble in the garden. The drought this year has helped with some invasive plants.

  7. PlantPostings says:

    You have some great companion plantings. And I love the white Liatris! I think it’s great to let some areas go wild, and to cultivate others. Then you have a nice blend of different garden “rooms.” Very nice.

    • Donna says:

      Glad you like it. I guess I am too eclectic at times with my likes which does lend itself to garden rooms. I just keep changing my mind, but that just means I can fuel my creative side too….:) …glad you enjoyed the companion plantings…

  8. p3chandan says:

    Weeding is a chore I hate most..Those are weeds and wildflowers? Wow…they all looked so pretty, I would want them in my garden! I have 2 weeds that I wont yank out, the ruellia tuberosa and the Star of Bethleham, they have such pretty blooms.

    • Donna says:

      I don’t mind weeding if I can keep it in check or it doesn’t overwhelm me…but so far that has not happened and it gets overwhelming…The weeds you love are indeed gorgeous in their blooms. It is why I don’t mind many of the weeds…they are pretty too…

  9. Janet/Plantaliscious says:

    Love the Winnie the Pooh quote – and the helipsis/monarada combo. And thank you for introducing me to yet another new plant – liatris just got added to the list. I may have to give up blogging just to preserve me from bankruptcy, I keep discovering new plants!

    • Donna says:

      Janet, liatris is such a gorgeous plant that hummers, butterflies and bees love. You will definitely love this plant. I know what you mean about finding too many new plants that I just have to have. Although my addiction is worse. I am forever changing gardens around meaning labor, plants and time I don’t have….but it is a wonderful addiction!!

  10. Pam's English Garden says:

    Dear Donna, I love this posting. Great pictures – I have meadow envy. I need to buy that book – thanks for the info. I agree with you on your choice of ‘wild flowers’ over weeds. Stay cool. P. x

    • Donna says:

      Pam, you are too kind. I would say that I devote the most time in my garden to filling the meadow with more flowers and varieties. Like all gardens it will never be finished because Mother Nature dictates what it will be more than I do…

  11. andrea says:

    I agree, and i love weeds too, especially if they are not very invasive. In that case i just separate the flowers from the plant’s habit and appreciate the flower as is, separate from the plant!

  12. Cat says:

    The weeds are even suffering this summer in our climate! Hot (like always, but mostly too dry)!

    Always love when a Winnie the Pooh quote gets thrown into a post. You can never go wrong with Pooh!

    • Donna says:

      Cat you are right…Pooh is the best…it is even too dry here where we normally get weekly rain…kind of scary to me to see this long a dry spell with the killer heat…we will hope for some refreshing rain soon…

  13. Masha says:

    I paid money for some of those weeds! I agree, the definition of weed varies from gardener to gardener, here California poppies are weeds because they re-seed uninvited everywhere :). Great post, and I love your wildflowers, especially your meadow with milkweed, rudbeckias and helianthus.

    • Donna says:

      I paid for some of them as well 😉
      CA poppies are annuals here and I sometimes would invite them into the meadow if I needed color…glad you liked the meadow and post!

  14. Jean says:

    Donna, I have many of the same weeds/wildflowers in my garden — vetch grows by the driveway and on the back slope (where I just keep cutting it back to keep it from overpowering the plants), and my “lawn” is a mixture of wild strawberries, club moss, yellow hawkweed and white clover. I am a big fan of the white liatris; in my garden, it looks as though it may begin blooming soon. So far, none of my phlox has started blooming, which is probably a good thing since they are predicting both rain and cooler weather here next week.

    • Donna says:

      My phlox is appearing a bit more with all the heat….we are cooling down to the lower 80s this week but back to 90 by the weekend…no real rain in sight either…your weeds/wildflowers in the “lawn” sound lovely…

  15. Shyrlene says:

    Donna – I can see we are clearly on the same page with weeds this week! Mine aren’t nearly as pretty as yours…

    It’s funny you mentioned “Queen Anne’s Lace”. I remember gathering it up in the fields (Upstate NY) as a kid for a wild flower ‘bouquet’, then putting the stems in food color. The flowers would take on the color (red, blue or green!) of the tinted water they were in. What a happy memory!

    • Donna says:

      Shyrlene you can actually buy seeds to grow Queen Anne’s Lace in a meadow. I may have to put some in colored water for old time’s sake…I will be back amongst the weeds this weekend keeping some at bay and thinning others out 🙂

    • Donna says:

      Thx Michael…you have worse heat in your neck of the woods…thx too for following my blog and I am glad you loved your visit!!

  16. Laura @ PatioPatch says:

    Donna, the liatris and echinacea made me gasp with its beauty. Let’s keep our gardens less tidy and give space to weeds. Many of our butterflies rely on them as caterpillars.

    • Donna says:

      I love that sentiment…glad you enjoyed the post…my wildflowers are enjoying lots of garden space this year…I hope to see more butterflies too…

  17. Alistair says:

    Donna, the only reason weeds are not too much of a problem in my garden is because I have plenty time on my hands to get rid of them. We actually tried to grow Teazel in the garden, turned out our Summer is just too cool for them. Many of your wild flowers would be treasured as specimen plants here. The picture of your Echinacea is brilliant, just shows a plant does not have to be in full bloom to make the best of it.

    • Donna says:

      Thx Alistair…I do love capturing pics of plants at different stages…as I wander I look to see what captures my eye and then I take the pic…I am glad you enjoyed my wild flowers!!

  18. Sheila says:

    Gorgeous photos of wildflowers … Some day I need to learn more about the names of weeds. I know many of them by sight, but not name.

    The liatris reminds me of a lit candle …

    • Donna says:

      I love learning the weeds names…it helps…glad you enjoyed the post…and yes liatris does look like a candle lit and melting wax…:)

  19. Curbstone Valley Farm says:

    I love Milne’s quote. I promoted a number of my presumed ‘weeds’ to wildflowers the first couple of years we lived here. It takes time to get to know all the volunteers that grow in a garden, but some of them I now intentionally cultivate, like our native hedge nettles, loved by the bumble bees, or the Western Vervain that our green sweat bees love in late summer. Many of our non-natives, our true ‘weeds’, do get pulled, like the vetch, which will smother a dog in the garden if it stands still long enough! But I rather don’t mind some of the native volunteers, especially if I don’t have to water them!

    • Donna says:

      It is fun to cultivate the weeds to wildflowers…vetch is quite a problem though…I have yet to learn the pollinators that love them but will explore that more…and as you say they dont’ need water 🙂

    • Donna says:

      Greggo it is such a wonderful plant both as a wildflower/native plant or a garden plant…whichever way it is viewed it is so beneficial to the garden, lovely to look at and has a wonderful scent…besides the sight of a hummingbird visiting phlox is priceless!!

  20. Rose says:

    I think there’s a fine line between weeds and wildflowers, too. Thistle is one plant that I would definitely call a weed, and yet the butterflies and finches love it, so it does have some redeeming qualities, too. I’ve been looking for a book to help me identify more of my weeds, too; I’ll have to see if they also publish one for the Midwest.

    • Donna says:

      Rose so nice to have you visiting…I find it hard to call many wildflowers weeds especially because as you say they have redeeming qualities…check out Amazon…they have Weeds of the Midwest titles…

  21. Jan @ Thanks for today. says:

    I really enjoyed your photos of weeds and wildflowers. While all have some attraction to pollinators, if they are invasive or choke out other plants, then I consider them a weed. It all depends on our individual climates how a plant is going to behave, I guess. For some, Tradescantia is a weed, for others, a cherished perennial native! For me, I cannot even get mine to bloom. Same goes with Obedient Plant, which is supposed to be a wild runner–I’ve had mine in the ground for 3 years and it hasn’t grown large like I’d hoped!
    I have white liatris, too…it somehow appeared this year. I planted several purple bulbs a couple of years ago…voila! Surprises like that I can handle!

    • Donna says:

      Jan I am so glad you enjoyed the post. It certainly does depend on our sections of the country and world…how funny that Obedient stays obedient in your yard and for me it will take over if I don’t pull some out. Tradescantia is a native for me too. Hard to image even honeysuckle being an invasive plant. I love the surprises in the garden. I am never quite sure what is going to bloom…so many things are changed by pollinators or moved by critters…

  22. Tootsie says:

    I thank you so much for linking in this week. It is an honor to host Friday’s Flaunt and meet new friends and visit the regulars (who are like old friends) who share. I am always excited to tour each post and see the different flowers/ projects and garden art that everyone flaunts. It is a pleasure to tour and see all the gorgeous blooms…and I appreciate each and every link and comment! I hope you will link in again soon!
    ¸.•´¸.•*¨) ¸.•*¨)
    (¸.•´ (¸.•´ .•´ ¸¸.•¨¯`•.

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