Sunday, 20 April 2014

They have enough nerve

I'm afraid there's no denyin'
I'm just a dandylion
(The Wizard of Oz 1939)

My garden is currently in the grip of its annual dandelion invasion.  Every year about this time I look out across the garden and I wonder if I do actually own the national collection of dandelions, I certainly feel like I am cornering the market on them.
I feel a touch of guilt when I am cursing the dandelions as unwanted, as I see them scattered amongst the daisies I wonder why the daisies are welcome, nay encourage to spread at will, yet the dandelion I do not feel so happy with.  I am aware this is at best double standards.
I see them mixed in with these Spanish bluebells, a plant I also discourage, yet it is the dandelion that annoys me more.  I do dig up lots of Spanish bluebells as I work to the theory that there are plenty more where they came from.  I would say the difference is that no matter what I do there are always plenty of dandelions, so you might think it was this abundance that makes me dislike them; but I grow Nigella and teasels and they seed everywhere too yet I do not get so grumpy with them.
Dandelions dot throughout the Wild Garden, along with the nettles and the thistles and here I get less worried, it is in the main garden that I realise I do not want them.  At the same time I realise that if I did not let them grow in the Wild Garden I would have fewer in the main garden, choices choices.  It is, yet again, a case of a rod for my own back.
I mow them when they are in the lawns, I hope that this helps keep them somewhat in control.  I also pull their flowers off as I pass by, its sort of cruelly satisfying.  I also know, there will be plenty more where they came from, I am just trying to limit the amount of seed heads.  For they have great nerve and confidence, they stride confidently around the garden looking like the own the place.  I am fairly sure that the collective noun for dandelions is a confidence of dandelions.
Yet they have great beauty, the shine in the sun and wildlife loves them.  I feel almost even more guilty as I write this.  Except they are rampant, they seed everywhere, everywhere!  Just when you think you have finished weeding you see one, popping its head out from the centre of clump of plants, they wedge themselves into the side of plants so they are hard to dig out without damaging the host plant.  They are, in fact, the champion weed-player of hide and seek and yes, I do hold this against them.
In reality the dandelion has even quite a cool name, Taraxacum officinale, a word with an x in it is usually quite cool.  The dandelion has well known diuretic properties, it is commonly known as 'wet the bed'.  It is a prolific spreader, no matter how beautiful the seedheads are, every seed, yes every seed that hits the grown will become another plant, I am sure this must be true.  It doesn't even need fertilising, no, the devil will produce seed asexually, that is how wicked it is.

The name 'dandelion' derives from the french 'dente de lion', lion's tooth from the shape of its leaves.  The root of the dandelion can also be roasted to create coffee.   I have tried dandelion coffee, it was not the best thing I have ever tried.
So we can admire the dandelion's beauty, but be also aware of its invasive nature.  It is definite that if you give it an inch it will take over your garden, it will ruin your lawn whether you want it to or not and even if, like me, you are not really bothered about a perfect lawn, it will still be a sufficient nuisance for the occasional curse.
and don't forget, just when you think you have weeded every last one of them out of your border one will suddenly appear, its like the villain in every good horror film just when you thought it was all over, it rarely is as there are legions of sequels to come.

4 comments :

  1. This really made me smile! Particularly the comment about their ability to sneak in up against a favourite plant and hide. Until too big to do anything about... I dig them out of the borders and veg beds but leave them alone in the grass until they look as if they are about to seed. Stupid, I know it just creates more work, but they make me smile!

    ReplyDelete
  2. "For they have great nerve and confidence" – love this! it is like a line of poetry.

    Have you read Elizabeth and her German Garden by Elizabeth von Arnim? She loves the dandelions in her garden and says "never would endure to see them all mown away if I were not certain that in a day or two they would be pushing up their little faces again as jauntily as ever".

    In my garden it is Common Cat's Ear (Hypochoeris radicata) that has the greatest nerve and confidence.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Isn't that funny - dandelions are one of my top favourite flowers. Even their leaves are beautiful in shape and colours of green - though I wish I had some kind of understanding of how to tell them apart. (There are at least 235 species of dandelion in the UK.)

    You may know this already but there really is a National Collection of Dandelions at the Museum of Wales (which includes its Botanic Gardens) http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/3585/

    ReplyDelete
  4. If only we could love them a little bit more, but they always put themselves in the middle of another plant, where it is impossible to get them out!

    ReplyDelete

All comments are moderated.