To Mow or Not to Mow? Well, You Know the Rest (Not!)

Bummer, money is tight.   The budget for maintaing our state roads has been drastically cut.   Money for mowing Clarke County’s roadways is part of the cuts.     I realize there are some serious safety issues for mowing on our roadways;  Visibility at various intersections; Dry grasses can ignite and cause field fires; Critters will take advantage of new places to nest and produce young that venture into our roadways, just to name a few.

Queen Ann Lace and Chickory adorn roadsides in Clarke County, Virginia - Photo by J.C.Coon

Before I proceed, I want to make it known that I, for one, am thankful to all the highway workers who over the years have taken great pains, pride and given a lot of sweat to keep our roadways and highways looking well groomed.   Thank you.

I also want to thank those who did the research to find and plant ‘wild flowers’ in the medians of our major roadways for us all to enjoy.   They are a joy to behold as I make my daily commute up and down the highway.

It is with mixed emotions and, caution, that I express my delight in seeing the emergence of seeds that I thought had been made extinct by man, mowers and chemicals. Flowers that I feared had vanished from existence have been gracing our medians, highways, and bi-ways this year.     In the spring and early summer we had Chicory, Queen Anne’s lace, Purple Thistles, Black-eye Susan, Daisy, Milkweed, and Cattails.  Now, Yellow Mulleins, and the Foxtail grasses are waving at me in the breeze.

Roadside flowers are a tough breed.   They are hardy flowers that usually grow in the worst of soils, or like the cattails in marsh, where nothing else will grow and is hard to mow.   They don’t have be dug up and replanted every year.   Did you notice that they know exactly where to grow, in just the right amount of shade or sun?   Clever seeds.

Could there be a lesson here for us?

Fox Tail grasses are hearty roadside plants

Yellow Mullein, weed or flower?

Do you remember the photos from the late 1930’s in Oklahoma? The area was called the Dust Bowl then.   The story goes that before the farms were there  prairie grasses kept the moisture in the soil.   Then the farmers removed the grasses and didn’t  practice good farming or crop rotation rules. The poor land use practices combined with heat, winds and drought brought on a natural disaster.

Maybe, Virginia, we might want to rethink our mowing plans.

Well with all that said… I sadly want to share with those of you who do not like these beautiful weeds that the State of Virginia has a program for you. If you really want to get rid of these weeds, you, yes YOU can volunteer (but not get paid) to mow Virginia’s highways and byways!

For details check out this web site:

My husband said he would gladly do his part and stop mowing the front lawn!


  1. nice article – image and information-rich and wise. Thank you!