Sunday, 6 May 2012

Fine And Dandy

Or the lion's tooth.


This is Taraxacum officinale, a herbaceous perennial, sometimes grown as a medicinal herb. What ?  What do you mean, it's a weed ?


And here it is growing with Honesty. Oh alright then, I suppose some people would call it a weed. In fact, everybody calls it a weed. Yes, it's the humble dandelion, named from the French phrase 'dent de lion' meaning lion's tooth, a reference to its jagged leaves. Much has been written about its medicinal and culinary properties, but I intend to concentrate on its advantages to the garden. Yes, there are advantages. Really.

Firstly, one thing to bear in mind if you do decide to allow a few to grow in your garden; one plant can produce 5,000 seeds in one year. So on no account allow it to go to seed. And now for the benefits; it attracts pollinating insects. So do a lot of cultivated flowers, I hear you say. Hang on, I haven't finished yet. It releases ethylene gas that encourages fruit setting and ripening. So does a banana, I know, but there's more; its deep taproot brings nutrients and minerals to the surface, enriching the soil especially for shallow-rooted plants.

So believe it or not, and you probably don't, but I do allow a few dandelions to grow amongst the fruit trees on purpose. I always pull off the spent blooms before they seed, and occasionally I pull off some leaves for the compost bin. I bet you feel better about the dandelions in your lawn now, don't you ?

The full moon this morning has been described as a 'supermoon.'  It looked 14% larger and 30% brighter than normal, because it was so close to the earth. Hope you all remembered to plant and sow 48 hours before the full moon. I didn't. Forgot. Whoops.

And finally, the blue tits. Yesterday I saw a delightful and disturbing sight; the male blue tit enticed the female out of the nestbox with a big juicy grub. The disturbing bit ? He got the grub from the tree at the bottom of the garden. I walk under that tree. Today both birds are in and out of the nestbox, looks like the eggs are hatching.

18 comments:

  1. I resist the urge to pull the dandelions up - they do stick out like sore thumbs though. But they are the only cheerful colour in the garden at the moment now the daffys have gone over.

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    1. Yes, same here. The main colour in the garden is honesty and dandelions at the moment.

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  2. My Sir Winston Churchill Narcissi (daffs I think!) are still going strong in my pots! However, I shall forever look at the dandelion with more respect after reading these interesting facts. Never knew it's name originated from French - learn something new every day! When you look up for those grubs, make sure you keep your mouth closed!
    Ellie Maggie x

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    1. Good advice. Might put a hat on too.

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  3. I have always enjoyed dandelions and generally wait until they bloom to pull them. We don't have a lawn so a few are just fine here too.

    I'd love to run through a field of the seed heads, but I'm all grown up now.

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    1. I'm not. Guess what ? I did that today. The council have recently cut the grass in front of our houses, but they waited until it was full of dandelions in full bloom. Today the grassed areas were full of seed heads. Hope no-one was watching me.

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    2. Oh that sounds like fun! I last did that in a farm field when I was in my teens. They were so high and flew everywhere. Every time I see a puff ball I'm reminded...

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    3. I was out there again today. I really must behave myself.

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  4. I don't mind dandelion flowers and I don't mind the seed heads. I do not like their spindly stems. If they stayed a low growing plant, I would like them much better.

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    1. In a lawn they are very low growing, but also difficult to remove too.

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  5. Those Dandelions look very cheerful on yet another wet evening! I have a constant battle with them in my so called lawn but comfort myself with the knowledge that the insects like them ;-)

    It sounds like good news on the Blue Tits, they are certainly in the best place in that box in this weather!

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    1. The blue tits are out of the box even more now, more eggs must have hatched. Hope they stay indoors on Thursday when the next deluge is due.

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  6. Dandelions do look pretty but now that I know they produce that many seed I must try and pull more out! I have a large collection as it is! I like dandelion tea and apparently the leaves are tasty in salads.

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    1. I manage to keep them under control on the lawn, but the front garden is a bit of a struggle.

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  7. I do get a sense of satisfaction when the soil is wet enough to pull out dandelions with the whole tap root intact.

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    1. The soil should definitely be wet enough now.

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  8. I like dandelions. I look forward to their sunny yellowness in early spring. I never pull them until they're done blooming. :o)

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    1. I pull them up if they grow where I don't want them. As they say, a weed is just a plant growing n the wrong place.

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