Have you heard the quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: A weed is a plant whose virtues have never been discovered? Not so for the dandelion whose leaves can be put in salad, whose flowers can be pressed into wine, whose milky sap can be made into latex.
I have looked out at a field of dandelions and smiled just because their yellow hue says ‘happiness.’ So what makes us love one flower and disdain another?
Dandelions grow on just about every continent and while their seed balls can disperse hundreds of offspring, the tap root is so formidable that it can reproduce all on its own. This is an amazing flower, one could argue.
Yet our American yards are most admired when we plant a non-native species of grass that we keep cut so short it bears no fruit and that must be watered and fertilized constantly just to survive.
Now, don’t get me wrong – I like my grass. I like the peaceful sea of green that separates my flower and vegetable gardens. I like the smell when it is freshly cut. I like the feel beneath my toes when we run out and kick a ball or chase fireflies. I am just waking up to the reality - like many gardeners these days - that grass should be a plot, not the mainstay of the yard.
Current garden wisdom has moved from looking good to being good; from non-native species that often become invasive to native plantings that contribute to local biology; from perfectly manicured spaces that require copious amounts of resources to mixed gardens that produce eatables as well as flowers.
(Maybe my mother was right when she asked, if that plant can’t make it on its own, what good is it?)
As with most shifts in society, it will take a while for education and buying trends to follow what the ‘experts’ know, but certainly local nurseries are starting to offer more choices for the homeowner to get in on the “native” revolution.
Being the frugal gardener that I am, I like to dig up a wayside plant and bring it home (watch you don’t get poison ivy or other unwanted travelers if you try this). Some folks like to rescue dogs, I like to rescue plants – provide them a new home where they are loved J I haven’t really embraced the dandelion with this kind of affection, but I have brought home wild daises, Missouri primrose and grape hyacinths.
Right now, I’m contemplating getting some Chicory, Queen Anne’s lace and Day lilies that seem to be in every ditch here in NY and making a little spot in the yard for them to flourish. (I’ll wait a couple weeks until the height of summer heat passes – but may have to mark the spot because common cultivars don’t have the bloom time of nursery-grown plants.)
Call me eccentric, but while I’m digging up my "rescues" I will pray for them. I will pray that just like my life that was struggling in the ditch of rough places and shallow choices, that as I gently dig them up and bring them back home, it will be as Jesus did for me: found me, chose me, loved me and brought me home.
Have you been rescued?
It’s really not something we do, but more something we allow God to do. When we confess our sins, He forgives, restores and adopts us!
The trends in gardening are shifting. Will you be open to seeing your yard with new possibilities?
"The Lord was my support. He also brought me out in to a broad place; He delivered me because He delighted in me." Psalm 18:18, 19