Queen Anne’s lace: My favorite weed! The delicate, lacy, flat flower heads have become the darlings of florists everywhere. In the winter months, this weed is imported from Southern Europe for a dollar a head and more. All summer you find it growing wild in dry fields, along railroad tracks, and in piles of construction rubble. After this sort of Spartan treatment, Queen Anne’s lace will thrive in your pampered garden. They are great for cutting and adding to any summer bouquet. The flowers are sometimes dried for winter arrangements, although they will turn brown and curl as they dry, losing both shape and color. They are not bad dried as a pressed flower. Queen Anne’s lace is hard to transplant since it has a long, deep taproot — it isn’t called wild carrot for nothing! It reseeds with ease.
Milkweed: If you have a butterfly garden, you want and need milkweed. It is the primary food for the monarch butterfly. The pods are great for drying. Milkweed is easy from seed. Another large weed, milkweed clumps tower to 6 feet with ease.
Silver fleece vine: A flowering junk vine that provides cover in a single season, this weed can be bought from nurseries at about $10 a pot. It has become very popular in the past decade because it can grow as much as 20 to 30 feet in a season, and is covered with stems of tiny, foamy white flowers from mid- to late summer. Silver fleece vine will not become invasive because it dies back during the winter. Be careful where you put it — the bees love it!
Goldenrod: Mistakenly blamed for hay fever, its pollen is no worse than any other flower. (The real culprit for hay fever sufferers is ragweed, which blooms at the same time, beginning in mid-August.) Goldenrod, with yellow plumes of flowers on tall arching stems, is widely grown in European gardens.