UNITED STATES—Weeds grow, bloom, disperse seed and die a natural death without much trouble. This is especially frustrating while insect pathogens destroy desirable vegetation. Weeds seem to be more resilient to insect infestation and damage. Many actually are. They use nature to their advantage. Cultivation of desirable vegetation interferes with natural biodiversity.

Those who enjoy gardening do not want to consider it to be unnatural. Nonetheless, it is. It involves many exotic species that are not natural components of regional ecosystems. Breeding to improve their performance unnaturally compromises their vigor. They rely on unnatural irrigation and perhaps fertilization. They sustain many exotic insect pathogens.

Most species within home gardens could not survive for long without cultivation. Several that can unfortunately become invasively naturalized. In the process, most that benefited from breeding revert to a feral status. Some eventually enjoy more biodiversity in the wild than in cultivation. They rely on naturally beneficial insects to mitigate insect pathogens.

Nature is messy but efficient.

Insect pathogens are quite often more problematic than weeds. However, generally, they are less problematic than they were years ago. This is partly a result of improvements of modern horticulture. Strangely though, it is also partly a result of sloppier gardening. Old fashioned monoculture for big areas is passe. Biodiversity became an incidental benefit.

More species of vegetation sustain more insect species. This might not have qualified as an advantage years ago. Now, garden enthusiasts are more aware that some insects are predatory of others. Predators may not eliminate all insect pathogens, but they often limit infestations. With adequate limitation, damage is likely to be tolerable or inconspicuous.

This is one of two primary reasons that insecticides are less common now. Besides their potentially hazardous toxicity, they are simply less necessary. When they are necessary, modern insecticides target more specific insects. They can kill pathogens without hurting beneficial insects. Vegetation that too frequently needs insecticides becomes unpopular.

Highlight: Perennial Pea

Now that the weather is getting hot, perennial pea, Lathyrus latifolius, is finishing bloom. It needs warmth to bloom, so can begin between the middle or end of spring. However, it shrivels in heat, so can finish between the beginning and middle of summer. Sometimes, it can bloom for almost three months. Sometimes, it finishes almost as soon as it begins.

Perennial pea is more popular as a naturalized wildflower than within home gardens. Its seed is rarely available from nurseries. Young seedlings might not grow very big initially. Mature specimens can vigorously climb and creep more than seven feet in any direction. Their fibrous perennial roots are very difficult to kill. Propagation by root division is easy.

Almost all perennial pea blooms with an abundance of bright pinkish magenta flowers. A rare few bloom with slightly striated light pink flowers. A bit fewer bloom with bright white flowers. Bloom resembles that of annual sweet pea, but is less frilly and lacks fragrance. Slightly bluish foliage and stems have a soft texture, and recover slowly from disruptions. Any parts can be toxic if ingested.

Tony Tomeo can be contacted at tonytomeo.com.