Two plants stand out in this picture, although there are several tiny ones as well. This picture was taken in May outside my local community centre. It was closed during the lockdown and no one was doing any maintenance.

So where there had been footfall and maintenance there was now an opportunity and two plants took advantage.

So. What do you see?

I asked a small group of friends and contacts the same question. They all said pretty much the same thing.

“A weed and a flower,” most of them said.

“Which is the weed?” I asked.

They looked at me as if I’m a bit dim.

“You can tell by looking,” they say.

The somewhat stunted little plant on the left is a dandelion, almost at the end of its life. The blue plant on the right is Lobelia, a popular bedding plant here in England. Both probably grew from airborne seeds that settled in the cracks in the paving and sprouted when it rained. With no people walking past and no maintenance on the property, they grew.

I am struck by that phrase “You can tell by looking”.

The dandelion, Taraxacum, is an interesting plant with many uses. It is nutritious, full of vitamins with minerals too. It is edible – all of it. It can be used to make dyes. It is a source of natural rubber, and it is commonly used in traditional medicine around the globe.

Lobelia, Lobelia, is a common plant with many varieties around the globe. It too has a role in traditional medicine, much less so than the dandelion. It is not really edible and it is mostly grown because it is long flowering and good to look at.

I ask again, “What do you see?”

Which do you consider to be the more useful, the most valuable? Which is the weed?

If these plants were people, what would you see? Can you tell by looking?

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