Photo: Piers Northam. Dandelions in Old Harlow
Loving the Dandelion
A frustrated gardener wrote to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. In his letter he explained that his aim to have a perfect lawn was being thwarted by the persistence of Dandelions. They simply kept appearing no matter what he did. He had tried to root them out; he had smothered them with various chemicals; He had re-sown the most badly affected areas but it was all to no avail. In desperation he begged the Ministry to provide him with a solution to get rid of the Dandelions forever. After the usual delay, an official wrote back to him. The letter offered the Department’s considered advice: We suggest that you learn to love them.
Had he prayed to Jesus he might well have got the answer that he told in the parable of the wheat and the tares. Just let the Dandelions grow with the beautiful lush grass and then mow the lot away at the end of the season.
It might not go down too well with our frustrated gardener, though I have some sympathy with the advice because I have never tried to have a perfect lawn and I am quite fond of Dandelions. I think my love of them stretches back to my childhood when Dandelions were an essential ingredient to one of my favourite beverages – Dandelion & Burdock. They also provided a small source of income as a child. My friend and I would pick them from derelict land, wrap bunches of them in newspaper and sell them to kindly passers by who clearly knew a bargain when they saw one!
There is a truth that one person’s weed is another person’s treasure, or as A A Milnes said, weeds are flowers too once you get to know them. There are those who agree with that. I have come across a Dandelion Appreciation Society in America though I am not sure how active it is. However, the Dandelion has more enemies than friends, even though it is quite a lovely flower. It’s just an unwelcome visitor in well-manicured gardens which needs to be got rid of.
God, however, seems to have a different idea. He seems to love that sunshine flower many would perhaps prefer to destroy. There’s no accounting for taste – especially divine taste and God does seem to love a lot of things that we might prefer to reject. There’s a pause for thought there!
An article in the Guardian newspaper some time back expressed the opinion that ‘In human terms it would be the child you would rather your child didn’t play with’
The Dandelion, unaware of all this, just gets on with its task to delight and annoy in equal measure.
It also tends to have the last laugh as our correspondent to DEFRA discovered. It has an amazing self-survival technique. It has deep tap roots and, after flowering, the white fluffy globe which is the seed heads waiting to be carried by the wind to anywhere it fancies. Children help too (and maybe even some delinquent adults) with the game of blowing on the seeds into the air and making a wish as they do so.
This makes the Dandelion almost unassailable. They will doubtless still be growing long after the human race has made itself extinct. The golden, sun-like flower with its intricate and gorgeous leaf formation will still be bringing bright joy to otherwise dull verges, hedgerows, fields, wastelands, and almost anywhere.
We should indeed learn to love them, though I am not expecting total agreement about that!
But here’s a thing: When the fluffy ball is ready to cast its seeds, why not take it in your hand and blow gently on it, but instead of making a wish, send each seed on its way with a prayer addressed to God . This would make the Dandelion a prayer – wheel which takes our prayers , sorrows, thanksgivings and praises to God… just a thought.
Here’s a poem.
gossamer seeds –
each one a prayer
lifted on currents
to settle gently
in the loving palm of God’s hand.
[Mr G & PN]