In her book, The Value of Weeds, author Ann Cliff explores the beneficial potential of weeds and how we can use them. She begins with a discussion of the many ways weeds contribute to making and improving the soil, and goes on to consider such topics as the domestication of weeds, weeds as garden thugs, and the use of weeds as companion plants, and for livestock feed and wildlife habitats. Subsequent chapters discuss the control of weeds and describe the use of weeds for medicine, dye, and food, with some tempting recipes for the table. A final chapter deals with safety issues and identifies some of the most significant poisonous weeds. Throughout the book specific examples are used to illustrate the text and abundant pictures allow the reader to become familiar with the wonderful world of weeds.

Ann Cliff is British and identifies herself as “a farmer and untidy gardener”. She has written many books and articles on practical country living and seems to be very much of a “hands on” gardener. Her designation of a plant as a weed, however, might be different than that of many Americans considering that the definitions of a weed is subjective and includes “a plant considered undesirable in a particular situation”, “a plant in the wrong place”, or “a plant growing where it is not wanted”. Although the English sensibility towards gardens, plants, and weeds offers nuances that perhaps are not familiar to the American gardener, The Value of Weeds offers all gardeners a fresh appreciation of any plants they might call weeds.


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