Thursday, May 26, 2016

Friend or Foe

Behold the lowly dandelion, scourge of gardeners everywhere. Google the poor plant's name and the first thing to show up is how to kill it. This is something I've never understood. If it weren't for the dandelions, I'd have a total of about three flowers on my property. In a good year.
Dandelions are just as cheerful and bright a harbinger of spring and summer as their fussier cousins, daisies and asters, which actually have to be purchased. Dandelions are free. Maybe they are the essence of freedom. Certainly, no one thinks grim, funereal thoughts in the presence of dandelions, as they do with lilies. Dandelions are neither demanding nor pretentious, resting contentedly on the opposite end of the snob scale from roses, irises, and dahlias.
The dandelion is easy to grow, resistant to disease, and--drum roll, please--they are edible. Soup. Salad. Wine! Our pioneer ancestors must roll in their graves at our cavalier treatment of this versatile botanic specimen.
In case the above facts are not enough to persuade you of the dandelion's importance, how about some pure sentimental stuff? For how many children is the dandelion the first plant they can identify? For how many mothers is a bouquet of dandelions the first gift their child offers them? Who hasn't made a wish while blowing away the fluff of a spent dandelion?
Yet, no florist I've ever encountered would include dandelions in an arrangement. None of the proud gardeners I know would tolerate them anywhere near their precious herbaceous beds. The average American would rather cover his lawn with poisonous chemicals than allow one Taraxacum to invade the lawn.
That seems a shame, especially when they so quickly turn to wishes.