Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether summer clothe the general earth
With greeness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.



Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Dandelions



I am the sun's remembrance, the boy
Who runs in hedgerow,and in field and garden,
Showing his badge, a round-faced golden joy
With tips of flame. I bear my master's pardon
For my long,greedy roots. I bring his message
And pay his sovereign coin for my passage.
If any call me robber of the soil,
Let him but wait on windy weather, note
How easily,without a mortal's toil,
I change my gold to silver treasure,float
The fairy mintage on the air,and then
Defy the curse of all industrious men.

Richard Church (1893-1972)



Many people seem to regard dandelions as weeds (including me at times!) but actually it's lovely golden face brightens up the most unpromising places and makes little patches of cheerfulness even in grim inner city areas. In the countryside a field full of dandelions is a lovely sight(click on the photo to enlarge it). It's also a very useful plant and has been used as both food and medicine for centuries. The leaves have a very high mineral content and can be used in salads or made into a tea and they are an excellent detoxifier. The flowers can be made into wine or beer and, like the leaves, can be eaten in salads. The roots can be dried, ground and made into a coffee substitute though I confess I've never tried it.Dandelion is a mild diuretic too and one of it's nicknames is the rather down to earth 'pissabed'! Dandelions are, in fact, all round good eggs of the plant world and before we developed the fad for bowling green lawns they were encouraged because people knew how useful they are. The leaves are high in Vitamin C and the Anglo Saxons and Normans used them to control scurvy. Dandelion infused oil is good for muscle tension and stiff necks and, if we ever get another sunny dry day, I shall be making some of this.


The dandelion makes a good barometer, when the flowers have seeded and are in their fluffy stage, you can tell if the weather is going to be wet or fine. In fine weather the ball extends to full, but when rain approaches, it shuts like an umbrella. If the weather is going to be showery it keeps shut all the time, only opening when the danger from the rain is past.



There is a legend that tells of how the dandelion first appeared on the earth. In ancient days when the world was populated by fairies, elves and gnomes, the first humans to arrive caused problems as they could not see these beings and so kept treading on them. Some of the sun-loving fairies dressed in bright yellow gowns had nowhere to hide, unlike the gnomes and elves who took refuge behind rocks or under the ground, so they were transformed into dandelions. If you step on a dandelion it will soon spring up again, as it is said to contain the spirit of the fairies. Dandelion clocks are said to transport fairies, and as a reward for blowing on the clock and sending a fairy on its way you can make a wish - the legend doesn't make it clear whether it will be granted though:)



Little Dandelion

Bright little Dandelion
Lights up the meads,
Swings on her slender foot,
Telleth her beads,
Lists to the robin's note
Poured from above;
Wise little Dandelion
Asks not for love.

Cold lie the daisy banks
Clothed but in green,
Where, in the days agone,
Bright hues were seen.
Wild pinks are slumbering,
Violets delay;
True little Dandelion
Greeteth the May.

Brave little Dandelion!
Fast falls the snow,
Bending the daffodil's
Haughty head low.
Under that fleecy tent,
Careless of cold,
Blithe little Dandelion
Counteth her gold.

Meek little Dandelion
Groweth more fair,
Till dies the amber dew
Out from her hair.
High rides the thirsty sun,
Fiercely and high;
Faint little Dandelion
Closeth her eye.

Pale little Dandelion,
In her white shroud,
Heareth the angel-breeze
Call from the cloud;
Tiny plumes fluttering
Make no delay;
Little winged Dandelion
Soareth away.

Helen Barron Bostwick [1826- ? ]

18 comments:

Thimbleanna said...

Ah, dandelions. What a relationship we have with them -- it seems we never know whether to love them or hate them. Thanks for all the great info. And love your new banner!

PAT said...

Wonderful post, Rowan.

We certainly do have a love/hate relationship with dandelions. Of course, with children, it's all love.

Wanda said...

I've learned a few things from your lovely post about dandelions, Rowan...both fact and fiction!

My grandmother taught me to love them. One can use a section of the stem to make a rather harsh noise. Make a small slit up one end of the stem and blow through the other. The slit end vibrates with a rather loud buzz sound! Larger stems work best!

♥...Wanda

Mac n' Janet said...

I too love a field full of Dandilions, hadn't realized how useful they were, have to try some in a salad.

George said...

What a lovely posting, Rowan! I loved your narrative and the poems as well. Never again will I apologize to the neighbors for the dandelions growing in my yard.

Derrick said...

Hello Rowan,

Delightful post on such a bright and prolific plant. And those naughty TV ads. would have us exterminating them!

Kate said...

I'm a big fan of dandelions - and the horses love to eat them, too, flowers and all!

Roy said...

This is a superb post about the simple Dandelion Rowan.

Piecefulafternoon said...

What a lovely post. We adore dandelions and were very disappointed when our new yard had none - but they faithfully flew their little seeds about and now we have an abundance. The flowers and "wishes" only last a little while and we love having them around.

I liked the story of the gnomes and fairies.

Janet said...

My husband and the gardener wage a never-ending battle against the dandelion but I secretly hope they lose as I actually enjoy seeing their bright yellow faces. And we love roasted dandelion root tea.

Von said...

Ah the beauty if the dandelion so well told by Rowan!Us humans have always been such bumblefoots!

Morning's Minion said...

Enchanting poems. My late Mother-in-law and my Grampa Mac were both beleivers in the benefits of "dandelion greens." Steamed with some butter and a slosh of vinegar they aren't bad--as long as all the grit is washed off!

ChrisJ said...

I had dandelion wine a long while ago. In fact now I think about it I think it was dandelion and burdock. I love the poems especially the first one. I have a dandelion 'clock' caught in resin, for a paper weight. Beautiful.

Rosie said...

Dandelions are wonderful plants aren't they? They have so many uses and both flowers and 'clocks' are so pretty; but as you say we all have a love/hate relationship with them. I don't mind them in my lawns or flower beds but can't stand them pushing their way through between the slabs on the front drive. I've enjoyed your post:)

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I never understood why my father tried to remove these from the garden. I always loved them.
Wonderful post.

laoi gaul~williams said...

ohhh a lovely post!
i adore dandelions and get quite cross when my neighbour moand about them being a weed (actually she regards anything not bought in a big commercial garden centre as a weed~i try not to get cross but i do!)
i picked some not long ago and used the idea from the edible garden~cook them in a pancake batter~i have to say it was not that tasty!
i have noticed that flynt will eat them the way cody would eat daisys!

Diane said...

I never knew you could do so much with them!! I shall be scouring the tinter web now Rowan - thanks for the inspiration - and I also think that fields full of them look great (though they are not so welcome in my garden!). xx

Julie said...

I loved the story of the first dandelions and the fairies! Thanks for sharing it. I am glad you love the dandelion too, as I do and as Emily Dickinson did.

Dan mowed the lawn on Sunday and yesterday already (four days) the whole back yard was dotted with dandelions. I should tell Dan to leave them seeing as they are so valuable!