The Dandelion is one of the most misunderstood plants in the United States. Despised by homeowners and constantly attacked by poisons and lawn mowers– the Dandelion is dismissed as a weed. It’s blooms are picked by children and gifted to Mothers. Photographers ask clients to dance in Dandelion fields. The Dandelion is frowned upon once it sprouts from a lawn, yet many take pleasure in blowing the seeds from its white, fluffy, spherical head.
The Dandelion, in fact, is a very valuable, fully edible, nutritious and mildly delicious medicinal plant. In progressive cities in the United States, people farm Dandelion and sell the leaves as salad greens to the public at farmer’s markets.
Here’s a slide that my husband, Aaron, prepared for a Permaculture presentation he prepared for The Spartanburg Men’s Garden Club:
As you can see, the Dandelion, to me, is more than just a weed. However, if you were to perform a simple internet search using the key terms “weed killer” or “weed control”, you’d find multiple images such as these:
Why do we have to hate on the Dandelion so much? What is this strange desire we have, here in America, to have perfect, green, grass-only lawns? My thoughts lead me to the need to control nature– which I find mostly silly.
- 1. a wild plant growing where it is not wanted and in competition with cultivated plants.
The perfect cultivated lawn, as it is defined today by many, is “weed” free. Long ago, people actually grew food on pieces of property they owned. In fact, the desire for a grass-only lawn came to become standard once the rich, wealthy elite began growing grass as a lawn– to brag about their wealth, in a sense. One need not grow food on their property if they were wealthy enough to grow grass instead.
“The lawn appears to be a European invention, which makes ecological sense because the moist, mild, climate of Europe supported open, close-cut grasslands. (The less temperate climate of North America does not.)
Some of the earliest lawns were the grasslands around medieval castles in France and Britain, kept clear of trees so guards had an unobstructed view of approaching, perhaps hostile, visitors.
In the 16th Century Renaissance, lawns were deliberately cultivated by the wealthy in both France and England, though they were more likely planted with chamomile or thyme than with grass. Both of these ground covers make excellent alternatives to grass in modern lawns.” source
Aaron and I have two young boys. We understand the thought process behind having open spaces in our landscape for play and entertainment. The dandelion, to us, represents many things that we believe to be wrong about what is accepted in our society. Aaron and I are “careless” because we allow dandelions to reproduce and bloom all over our yard. Let your non-grass grow for long enough and you might in fact, get a visit from Environmental Control…and I say this from experience. Landscapes which “allow” grass/plants to grow more than 16 inches draw attention, which is often negative. People just aren’t used to seeing it. My hope is that this will change over time, quickly.
People who hold opinions such as “dandelions are not weeds” are often categorized as “nature freaks” or “hippies” and are cast to the fringes of society. Many of the things Aaron and I do to our landscape (Mostly designed by Aaron) are not traditional in any sense. We have a a small permaculture food forest backyard garden. It is very eye catching, because it is so different. We aren’t afraid to be different. The Dandelion seemed a good plant-world mascot for our endeavors.
We aren’t alone in our thinking as the dandelion as a valuable plant. In fact, the popular tea brand, Traditional Medicinals, offers a Dandelion brew.
One morning, while sipping my tea in morning contemplation, I snagged a quick photograph of a message on my tea bag that spoke to me.
Traditional Medicninals aren’t the only ones who offer and profit from a product that people pay money to eradicate from their lawns.
This blog will offer opinions, discussions and facts about topics such as these (not all “weeds” are bad), along with recipes, crafties, photos and other projects. I am excited to share future creations and promote my thoughts and beliefs here.