In a way it started with Weeds of the West (Tom Whitson et al.) - when I spent the winter of 97-98 in San Diego California (as a guest at the Laboratory for Comparative Human Cognition, researching archives of electronic communication). I don't drive, but I walk a lot, so I went by bus to where I could walk along the beach, or to Torrey Pines State Reserve with it's preserved native plant communities. Since that winter was an el Niño season with lots of rain, I also was fortunate to have an opportunity to see the Anza Borrego desert flowering abundantly (the picture down below shows me admiring some beavertail cactuses).
For shorter walks closer to where I lived there was
Rose Canyon, where the vegetation is mostly weedy: thistles, mustards,
broom, poison ivy, hemlock, nettles... While the coastal sagebrush
and chaparral of Torrey Pines and the desert of Anza Borrego were
new and different, in Rose Canyon I was struck by the similarities
with plant life in neglected suburban places back home. My Californian
walks revived my old interest in plant life: I invested in the
600-page book on the Weeds
of the West, reading it, marking pages.
I was homesick in California, but I enjoyed the ocean and the plant life - and somehow, thinking of plant life in English got linked to weeds, at least in the wide definition given by J.D Torell. In plain words: stuff growing in places where people don't want it. And somewhere I identify with that civil disobedience of weed life. Certainly, last year when I started the weed walks, I had a strong feeling of being unwanted, a weed among S-weeds.
Then there was an absolutely practical consideration that gives another answer to the question "Why weeds?" In order to get some plant matter on my scanner every day it simply has to be gathered more or less where I would be walking anyway, mostly close to where I live - and what grows there, free for the picking, is by definition a matter of weeds. I knew that when I started looking I would find a lot more than I had seen just in passing by, unseeingly. And at an early stage I settled for a small territory of just a few blocks - challenging myself to discover as much as I possibly could within the self-imposed boundaries of my game. In the course of this trivial pursuit I have had ample opportunity to observe and record how the self-organized plant life that I document is, indeed persecuted as "interfering with management objectives" for this area.