When the first volunteer thistle plant appeared in the garden a few years ago (courtesy, no doubt, of an uneaten seed from the finch feeder), I saw it as a weed that sooner or later would cause me pain. I pulled it out and most of the others that followed.
There was one, however, that had
planted itself in a place inconvenient to weed, a spot I wasn’t actively
planting in. So I left it. And it grew. And grew. And grew. But as I looked up
at the thorny plant, I realized that my procrastination had not been such a bad
thing. It was actually rather interesting to look at with its upstretched
branches and purple tufts.
And then something very
interesting happened. The butterflies found it. And loved it. The finches
followed, taking great joy in pulling apart the purple flowers, revealing
fluffy seeds. That’s when I decided that the big, old thorny weed could stay –
as long as it chose a spot a bit out of the way and refrained from attacking me
as I worked near it in the garden.