I had a conversation today about Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale).  They seem to be everywhere at the moment.  Some of them are enormous with elongated stems proudly displaying their yellow heads high above large rosettes of foliage.  The wet weather must be ideal conditions for them.  It got me thinking, why I have a love/hate relationship with them?

Maybe it Is because we work hard in our gardens to achieve the results that we desire yet these self-seeders quickly populate our space effortlessly, returning year after year when nothing else seems to thrive.

Perhaps these negative feelings are embedded in our makeup.  As a youngster I believed that if you touched a Dandelion you would wet yourself, something I must have heard in the playground.  I also associated them with plants that dogs would alleviate themselves on; strange on reflection.  Digging a bit deeper I have found that the French call them 'Pissenlit' which is possibly where all this comes from.

Those dreaded rocket-like leaves tend to appear right next to a plant of great value in my garden making the removal of that horrid taproot all the more precarious.  Because I know how hard it can be to remove them, it is probably a task that I put off until it’s too late.  Often by the time I can be bothered to do something about them, the root is so embedded in the soil nothing is going to dislodge it in its entirety. 

That one in the middle photo above is sticking out of an Achillea millefolium.  This is pretty easy to extract due to the robust nature of the plant and the loose well-drained soil in this part of the garden.  However, other plants don’t fare so well which annoys me. 

But is this all a futile exercise? I spent many days in my early years blowing Dandelion seed-heads about and making wishes. I was oblivious to the potential horticultural hideousness my innocent actions were promoting...in fact who knows how far the wind naturally carries these parachute-like seeds.

We also celebrate these golden-coloured bee magnets.  For example here at Trentham Gardens sculptures adorn the lake.

A quick search of the Interweb reveals that all parts of the Dandelion are edible.  Go on pull one out of the ground and nibble its roots.  Whilst they can be used in  a variety of ways (from tea made from the roots to wine made from the flowers) I really have to draw the line on the suggestion that you can use the foliage in salads.    

They are also providers of early nectar for Bees, although I can think of prettier things to have in the lawn that do the same (crocus and fritillary).


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