My hosta have turned into cannibals and swallowed up the tulip bulbs. The clematis on one side of my shed door blooms every year while the one on the other side withers and dies (and is replaced by yet another $24.99 version of itself which also withers and dies, in an endless cycle). Half of my annuals have a weird mold on them and the other half are mostly brown at the tips since I keep forgetting to dead-head. Yet amid the madness, there is one thing I can always count on… dandelions.
The hardy dandelions survive rainstorms and droughts and dog pee. They are immune to the cold and the heat. They pop back to attention even after hours of children running amok across the yard. They have been poisoned, dug up and mowed over countless times, yet there they are… undaunted.
I can relate to the dandelions… more so than to the roses or the tulips or the shasta daisies. Unlike the delicate flowers that must be coddled and cajoled, the dandelions are strong and self-sufficient. They open every morning to greet the day and close at night to go to sleep. They have one of the longest growing seasons of any plant and their seeds are carried miles and miles in all directions. From a Darwinian perspective, they are totally kicking the flowers’ asses!
And dandelions are practical. Every single part of a dandelion has a useful purpose… roots, leaves, and flowers… you can eat them, make medicine from them, dye things pretty colours, etc. What can you do with a rose, really? Besides stick it in a vase, pin it to a groomsman, or sprinkle its petals somewhere?
Flowers are really just the shallow, silly cousins of the more useful (and usually just as lovely) weeds. And so I have decided to support my “weedy” sisters… feminists-of-the-lawn… defenders of freedom, refusing to be bound by pre-conceived notions about proper horticultural form.
Perhaps we should all spend a bit less time trying to be beautiful flowers and instead, embrace our weediness. Because I think that poor old Robbie Burns may have been slightly off-track when he proudly proclaimed “my love is like a red, red rose.” What does that really mean? Finicky, short-lived, and somewhat toxic? I would prefer my love to be a yellow dandelion. Irrepressible, unflappable, and forever finding the sun.
“Viva les dandelions!” I cry… and not just because my newfound passion for weeds offers me an excuse to skip mowing the lawn and instead, drink wine on the deck (okay… perhaps partially because of this but still…).
Perfection! I love my dandelions and I raise an eyebrow at anyone who questions why these lovely joyful sprites have overtaken my lawn and dares to pick them unless of course for a bouquet for their momma. I have a small book on the many uses of dandelions and also respect the “fact” that they are the first food of our darling bees who need steady nourishment to do their job. Once again, loved your article.
Have noticed that small children often find them more appealing than the flowers…