Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Dandelions.

One of the things I admire about plants - and one of the things I love about gardening - is that however much you try to tame them, if they wish to move elsewhere then they will do so.   When I lived in the Midlands we used to visit a National Trust property (can't remember which one) where a tiny, daisy-like flower had taken over almost every gap between paving flags all over the garden.   They flowered for almost the whole Summer and people came from miles around just to see them.   And, of course,  they had never actually been planted there.   Vita Sackville west said in one of her books  that plants always seemed to choose better places to put on a display than the place you had chosen for them (she was talking about violets, which also have that disposition to choose a different spot.

At the moment the patches of grass on our estate
 (and their are many.  It is a very well laid out estate) are peppered with dandelions.   What a pity they are viewed as weeds - with a name like 'lion's teeth' they would be such a popular choice if they were in pots in garden centres.   Alas, within the next week the council lawn mowers will be round to cut the grass and they will have gone before they have time to seed - not that the council will ever win.   They will be back in profusion next year with all those thousands of seeds on their heads many will take root however hard we try to stop them.    I looked out of the window this afternoon and D, my gardener, was carefully watering my front lawn with weed-killer (or should I say dandelion killer because that is mostly what they are).

The other popular plant round here that 'does its own thing' is the grape hyacinth.   Oh yes, they start off as neat little blue patches of flowers this time of year - next year they have double in size and the year after that they have started waltzing away down the road to colonise any spare bit of ground.    One of the plants we love to hate but we can't bring ourselves to pull them up as they are such a beautiful blue.  Yes, I am afraid we are just big softies at heart where gardening is concerned.

19 comments:

Rachel Phillips said...

My grass gets cut once a fortnight and the dandelions never stop coming up and are there again to be cut each fortnight. I can't imagine your estate dandelions are going to disappear for a whole year next week. I use the leaves for tea.

Heather said...

In days gone by dandelions were such a useful plant providing food, medicine and goodness knows what. They are a very cheerful sight especially early in the year when not much else has got started. I remember one year when they were very plentiful, we had moved house and the small paddock at the back was full of them. I thought of my grandmother who made country wines and wondered what she would do with them. I discovered that they make a delicious white wine, if you leave it long enough to bottle!

justjill said...

Dandelions are the first plant to flower for the bees. Weedkiller on them is taken by the bees and kills the bees.

angryparsnip said...

Grape hyacinth, love them. I had a small pot once and it was wonderful. No dandelions here and if we did the bunnies would take care of them. I love them also.
I use no weed killer as all the wild critters will eat the in a month when summer is here in full blast.

cheers, parsnip

northsider said...

Dandelions should be left alone at this time of year. There is very little pollen for the bees at the moment.

Cro Magnon said...

I have always thought it surprising that no-one has tried to hybridise the Dandelion. It is such a hardy plant, and very tenacious; it could be a winner!

Aahana said...
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Derek Faulkner said...

The small daisy like flower you refer to would be Mexican Fleabane (Erigeron karvinskianus).
Justjill makes a valuable point about weedkilling dandelions, they are a valuable food plant for bees. In this area budget cuts has seen grass verge cutting reduced considerably and so dandelions, etc grow in profusion for a lot longer, providing valuable food for all manner of insects. Bees need all the help that they can get.

Librarian said...

I have no garden of my own and know very little about gardening, but what the others have written here about weedkiller harming bees and other insects (not just by killing their food) makes sense to me.
As you say, it is a pity dandelions are considered weeds - so why not stop considering them as such? They are beautiful yellow flowers, useful for all sorts of insects, and their leaves can make excellent salads.

Anonymous said...

I spend time every year trying to get grape hyacinths to flourish in my garden with very little success so I was amazed to hear that they are treated like weeds round your way.
Another plant I struggle to grow is lily of the valley despite my next door neighbour pulling them out by the trowel full.
They were my mother's favourite and I’d love to grow them.
Sue

Jennyff said...

I read that you could dig a dandelion, nail it to your shed door for the summer and plant it again in autumn still alive and growing. Maybe it’s because they are so tough we just don’t value them.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thanks to all who left their comments about the bees. Neither my gardener nor I had thought about that and I shall make certain he doesn't kill them again - a very valuable point.

Beachcomber - I have never got Lily of the Valley to grow well - but keep trying.

Joanne Noragon said...

Dandelions are my garden challenge this weekend. I hope it does no rain!

Carol Caldwell said...

I totally agree about plants choosing where they want to be. I grow a dandelion patch next to my chicken run because they love dandelions but my patch doesn't grow anything like as well as they grow wild.

I also have violets that grow where they want to more so than planted and grape hyacinths taking over the entire garden. Primulas also self seed all over the garden and likewise they are too pretty to take out but I wonder if left to itself my garden would be full of just a few rampant things. Pulminaria is another self seeded everywhere in my garden. I too have had no luck with lily of the valley.

Derek Faulkner said...

Sounds like a great idea Carol, why keep buying flowers from a garden centre when you're getting all those for free.

Ann said...

I leave my dandelions in the front garden, until the clocks develop and then I pick them and discard. I do love grape hyacinths, but I’ve not been brave enough to plant any, due to their voracity.

lynda said...

Please don't allow him to use wedkillrr! It kinds the bees as well as the dandelions.. and dandelions are some of the earliest bee food! It makes me cringe.. I wish they'd outlaw the damned stuff!

Mary said...

This afternoon I saw a big fat beauty of a bumble bee on my bluebells, first one of the season. I'm in quandary over spraying again this year for mosquito control. Last year, my first time trying it, I have to admit I hardly had any bites for the first summer ever (and am so allergic to them never having them as a child in UK I guess). Sadly though, we had few bees and no butterflies last summer - the garden felt 'dead' and I felt guilty! I just don't think I can go through that again this year so must tell the service I have decided against it and will just have to deal with the itchy bites as I've done for so many years here in the south.

Mummy and Me said...

Really enjoying your posts about early spring Grandma! Funnily enough I have been admiring the dandelions too. Driving back home through the Highlands last week, one bit of road was thick with a border of dandelions either side for a good mile or so: it was beautiful in the sunshine. I have since noticed the roadside, or those islands of grass that often run in the middle of a larger road, are a great place to observe them, as they are left to create cover freely. U loves picking them too, especially the dandelion "clocks". Emily x