Monday, 27 April 2020


This photograph shows you the view if I stand in my hall, just inside the front door.   There is a grass verge, then the footpath and then a piece of waste ground.   All the flowers you see are, of course, dandelions.   There must be a thousand at least and at the moment I love looking at them.   Then I remind myself that each flower will eventually have a seed head and each seed head will contain maybe a couple of hundred seeds.   And where is the nearest lawn?   Yes, you have guessed correctly.  Mine.   And while dandelions look delightful they are classed as a weed and weeds and lawns do not go together comfortably.

I think of plants like Valerian, Rosebay Willowherb and to some extent the blue herbaceous geranium and how they originally began life in this country as rather 'precious' garden plants and are now considered 'weeds' - I certainly think it is fair to say that on the whole a gardener would not 'buy' a plant of these; he might allow it to stay if it decided to pay him a visit, the same is not true of the dandelion.   Once a weed, always a weed.   A pity really as close inspection reveals it to be a rather pretty flower.   But that of course is transferring the opposite way -- not garden flower to weed but weed to weed.   So out will have to come the weed killer as the chap who mows the grass verge only comes once a month.

I think every gardener in the country is hoping for rain this week.   We have had some lovely sunny days but after the wettest Autumn and Winter on record we have gone into the driest Spring.   How capricious the English weather is.  Now the ground is like sand here and the flower beds in my garden are full of dry cracks.  I tried sitting out in the sun after lunch (friend and neighbour H kindly lent me a garden chair as I just haven't got round to buying any until I have decided what to do with the last part of my garden (the part I intend to sit in)) but it is cooler today and as the afternoon has worn on the sky has got cloudier.   When I first went out the sky was deep blue and there were numerous beautiful puffy white clouds.   Now the sky is a rather angry dark grey.   Will it rain?   I do hope so.

Anyone who loves looking at the sky will be interested to know that today Chris Lintoft in The Times tells us that Venus 'high in the Western sky just after sunset' will be at its brightest tomorrow.  Knowing just how capricious the English weather can be - that is probably when we wont be able to see it because it will be raining.


Amanda said...

My husband and I like to call ours a "mixed turf" lawn because it's half grass, half weed, but where we are, if you can get anything green to grow, you count your blessings and leave it alone. We have sugar sand - "ball bearing sand," and are well above the water table, so anything taking root is just this side of a miracle. Your verge looks lovely to me, dandelions and all.

Doc said...

For years I had large expanses of green lawn and was manic about the way it looked, keeping it free of the dreaded dandelion. The neighboring properties full of them. I finally removed all lawn areas and made my life so much less stressful..

busybusybeejay said...

I know what you mean about dandelions.I go round the garden snapping off heads.This year our back lawn is full of violets.Very pretty but will they become "weeds".I hope not.
What has happened about you ukulele group?Do you do Zoom?
Take care.Barbarax

Cathy said...

Hi, can you tell me which canal program it was, I'd like to see it. When my father remarried he moved to Alrewas with my stepmother and we visited regularly when Dad was alive. We can't visit at the moment due to lockdown of course. Co-incidentally I was also a mature student at Walsall college some time ago. What a small world we live in! Best wishes Cathy 😊

Marjorie said...

More than a hundred years ago, a homesick Scot introduced broom to Victoria, BC. I love it but the gardeners curse it. We are not warm enough here to have anything growing yet. I hope you get your rain.

JayCee said...

Our lawn is more moss than grass. At least it is green.

VC said...

Dandelions are rife this year but they are great for the bees so every cloud!

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

Strangely enough Dandelions did used to be grown in the walled gardens of many big country houses, not for their flowers though but because the leaves were eaten in sandwiches and salads, especially in winter when there were no varieties of lettuce available that would grow at that time of year. One of the old men I knew when I worked on the farm used to pick the leaves and fry them with his breakfast - one day I shall try them for myself.

Granny Sue said...

John is correct about dandelions once being grown in gardens. Indeed, early settlers brought seeds with them to America because the plants were so valuable to them for early greens. So now we are also blessed with "dente de lion" here in the states. A friend recently made deep-fried dandelion flowerheads and pronounced them delicious. I've yet to try that, although I always harvest leaves for early salads and have made dandelion jelly from the blossoms. Early settlers here also dug the roots, roasted them, ground them and used them for coffee. Necessity, you know the rest.

Bovey Belle said...

I have been apologising to the Dandelions in my path and garden plot as I dug them out today and yesterday. There are plenty elsewhere across our land so I'm not even denting their numbers! I can remember my mum telling me not to pick them because I'd wet the bed . . . which I am guessing links to their being a natural diuretic.

I used to garden for a "townee" couple in a nearby village. I can remember looking across from their garden to a bit of wilderness across the lane which was absolutely afire with Rosebay Willowherb. Just gorgeous. The husband of the couple I gardened for then announced that they should be sprayed with weedkiller so he didn't have them in HIS (precious!) garden. I know what I thought about it . . . but then his wife got Cancer of the Oesophagus and I couldn't help thinking perhaps she shouldn't have sprayed her veg within an inch of its life with insecticide and then eat it without washing it . . .

I have Greater Willowherb (Codlins and Cream) and two big plants of Purple Loosestrife growing in my main garden but forgive them as they are so beautiful and beloved of the bees.

Let's hope we get a little bit of rain as I think all our gardens must be absolutely parched by now. But after a cooler greyer day, I'm missing the sun already . . . It was like being suddenly launched into summer.

Librarian said...

Very dry here, too, but rain is forecast in the course of this week - I hope so, even if it puts a damper (!) on my week off work.
As I am not a gardener, I am not qualified to say anything about the dandelions, but to be honest I never understood the distinction between weeds and not-weeds and why anyone should care.

Heather said...

Some gardeners might grow dandelions in the vegetable garden. The young leaves are apparently good in salads and the flowers make a delicious light table wine. I believe the plant has other uses too.
You are right about not seeing anything in the sky tonight. We have cloud cover here, just as we seem to have every time there is a super moon.

Derek Faulkner said...

It always amazes me how some plants get classed as weeds and therefore the subject of weed killing. If there weren't dandelions anywhere at all and someone began offering potted versions for sale in a garden center, people would probably rave about them. There is a small by-pass that I drive past every day and a few weeks ago the grass banks were a mass of dandelions in flower, creating so much vital bee food. Now as I drive past there are thousands of fluffy seed heads that look amazing with the rising sun behind them.

Tom Stephenson said...

But the insects love those dandelions...

Maureen @ Josephina Ballerina said...

My landlord at the huose we lived in last year always wanted to do battle with reviled clover. Little did she know that I bought clover seeds and planted them! Great for the bees, green, and hardier than grass.

Leilani Schuck Weatherington said...

Right in your very yards I come, without an invitation,
Which makes the grown-up people speak with words of indignation.
But well I know I’m welcome there to many a little fellow
Who takes his mother fists aglow with touseled heads of yellow.
He plays with me hours at a time, though I no word can utter;
He lets me kiss his chubby chin to see if he likes butter.
To make him curls I give my stem, I let him blow my feather
So mothers, let me stay I beg, that we may play together
The Flower Babies’ Book, Anna M. Scott

John Going Gently said...

Our churchyard looks a picture of windflowers

sue R said...

I read the other day that dandelion is not a weed it is in fact a member of the sunflower family which surprised me but I suppose if you look at it closely they resemble each other very much.

Joanne Noragon said...

The bees start their year feasting on dandelions.

Cro Magnon said...

Most unkempt areas of my garden are filled with flowering Honesty. Like Dandelions they happily spread everywhere.

Rachel Phillips said...

It looks like an interesting property across the road. A bit wilder than the bungalow side of the road.

The Weaver of Grass said...

That plot belongs to the builder who built the first part of the estate (my bungalow was built before the estate because it was built by the farmer who owned the land ) Rachel. Once a year he sends someone to cut it all back. I rather like it left as it is.

Cathy the programme is on BBC Four 7.30 Sunday evenings. 'Canal Diaries' with Robbie Cumming

Thannks everyone - some lovely replies and it does seem most of you are on the side of the dandelion.

thelma said...

Jennie is quite right dandelions are diuretic, the french name 'pissenlet'. I think apart from eating the young leaves as salad, you can grind the roots up as some sort of coffee. But don't do it until it gets really bad in the supermarkets!

Cathy said...

Thanks Pat I shall check out the I Player. Cheers Cathy x

Brenda said...

I enjoy your blog so much. I do not like Dandelions...I can remember when we lived in a subdivision in Ohio, in the 70's and early 80's, if one had a dandelion, the neighbors were aghast. lol...that stuck with me...even when I lived, again, in WV, then in South Carolina, back to WV...and now Indiana...I am in an apartment complex now-my 30th I don't concern myself with a child, they were a fun thing-blow, blow, blow...Hope you are doing well. this is my 40 plus plus plus day in-haven't left has delivered groceries outside for me few times...we wish we could in the south-been isolated even longer-all food delivered...I do fine as I know this is helping save lives...prayers

A Smaller Life said...

As you say colourful and pretty as flowers downright worrying as seed-heads. They ARE a vital 'flower' for the bees and I try to leave them as long as possible before mowing the heads off just as they are about to turn into seed-heads.

You can make a fake honey out of the flower heads I've been told, I've never gotten round to doing it though!!

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