Awen Environments - inspirational living arts
My Blog

Gardening with Nature: In Defense of Dandelions

The war on dandelions has become quite prolific in recent years.  Nevertheless, more regions are starting to realize the heavy costs associated with that golf course look. The damage to the environment and to ourselves is greater than we can possibly imagine and yet, there's alot of profit for chemical companies in maintaining the status quo. 
 
We've been brainwashed by corporations to believe that this war is how it should be-- that dandelions are somehow unnatural and something to be eradicated at all costs.  It was in fact, golf courses that decided that dandelions didn't look good on the playing course and so began the endless battle to have only perfectly mowed grass.  People started wanting that well manicured look and a dandelion free lawn became a symbol of prestige and a property that was supposedly well care for.
 
Due to increased research on the health effects of pesticide and herbicide use, Buffalo, NY became the first city to require signage indicating lawn and garden chemical treatments in 1991.  That same year a municipal council of Hudson in the province of Quebec, Canada banned pesticides much to the dismay of several pesticide companies that filed suit, but eventually lost when Hudson maintained its ruling.  Ontario has followed suit, as well as other provinces within Canada.
 
Despite this progress, I was extremely disappointed to still see a familiar yellow warning sign displayed in one of  the public flower gardens recently in the town where I currently reside. This particular garden dedicated to world peace with the sign "May Peace Prevail on Earth" in various languages, was created by a girl scout troup project and is located in the center of the Village of Lancaster.  It is a beautiful small garden when in bloom. 
 
Given all the information that's out there concerning how detrimental pesticides are, not only to the environment, but also to people and animals, I would hope that townships (including school districts) within WNY and around the U.S. would start becoming more progressive in their gardening and lawn care approach. Even so called 'natural' lawn care products are just a play on words and their advertising very misleading, as these products still contain chemicals that are harmful to life.  If they didn't, they wouldn't require a yellow warning sign, now would they?  The 24 or 48 hour waiting period may be over, but the chemicals are carried by the air that we breathe and seep into the ground water and they affect all life including butterflies, bees and songbirds.  Couldn't those funds devoted to pesticide and herbicide maintenance be put to better use?
 
I happen to differ from most, as I see the beauty in dandelions and they are welcome guests in my gardens and on my lawn because I know how valuable they are to creating healthy soil and providing nectar for bees and butterflies. I admit, it's hard to be a non-conformist in a suburban area and eventually I have to get my lawn mower out when the grass gets too high, however I do allow them time to bloom.  Allowing the dandelions time to fulfill their destiny is not the sign of someone who is neglectful-- quite the contrary.  I happen to love my yard and all the flowers that grow there.  And I enjoy seeing the mass of yellow color.  As mentioned in a previous post, the bees are in dire need of our help and the more food sources and habitat that we can provide them, the greater their chances of surviving.  Bees have to travel longer and longer distances just to get enough nectar because there aren't may wild spaces left and well manicured lawns provides little nourishment.  After a long winter, the bees are desperate to find sources of nectar and the dandelions are usually the only ones available.
 
The bright golden color of the dandelions is also linked with the third chakra (energy center of the body), the solar plexus which is associated with our emotions, creativity, personal power and instinctual or "gut reactions."  These rays of sunshine are some of the first flowers to bloom in the spring time long before all the cultivated gardens begin to blossom.  Their color and healing gifts are needed by Nature and by man.  Not only do the bees need the nectar, we need the vibration of the color yellow to re-energize our body after the darkness of winter.  Unfortunately, we always destroy that which we do not understand.  It is the habit of human nature.
 
Interestingly, the European colonists brought dandelion seeds with them and planted them in their gardens many centuries ago.  They were used for food sources, medicinal properties and their roots were roasted and ground into coffee. Dandelion tea is used as a blood purifier and is a great tonic to use to cleanse your system in the spring time.  It contains a variety of different minerals including iron, calcium, and magnesium to name a few, as well as various different vitamins such as A, B and D.  Much of this knowledge has long since been forgotten. 
 
With the advent of extensive advertising and chemical companies seeking massive profits, the entire image of dandelions has become that of disdain by most of society.  It is truly unfortunate and saddening because what the dandelion can do for man's body, it also does for the earth.  I'm certain that their proliferation is directly related to the amount of toxins in the soil.  The more we fight them, the greater their need to do their job.  Not only are they aerating the soil, but they are also providing much needed nutrients.  That's why you'll always see them popping up their yellow faces in my gardens.
 
We need to look at generally accepted beliefs with new perspectives and not assume that just because we've been led to believe certain things (mainly by corporations seeking profits) or because we've always been doing something in a particular way, that it's the right way.  Our current mode of thinking is not what will change the current weather patterns or stop the degradation of this planet or improve our health, it is looking at our environment with new eyes and the wonder and open mindedness of a child.  Haven't you ever wondered why young children think dandelions are beautiful and bring them to you to be placed in a vase?  Children see the beauty that is all around them before they are indoctrinated into a certain set of belief patterns based on society's norms at any given time.  Our attitudes and beliefs are learned behaviors largely driven by what is seen in advertising and projected as acceptable at that moment. 
 
Dewdrops and the morning sun,
Weave your garments fair and bright,
And we welcome you to-day
As the children of the light.
 
Children of the earth and sun.
We are slow to understand
All the richness of the gifts
Flowing from our Father's hand.
 
Welcome, early visitants,
With your sun-crowned golden hair

With your message to our hearts
Of our Father's loving care.
   
(Excerpt from Dandelions by Frances Ellen Watkins 1825-1911)
 
In Native American traditions, the earth is considered to be our 'mother' because she is a living being and provides for us in all ways.  Isn't it time we stop the war against this planet and start making peace with all life, including the insect kingdom and seemingly unwanted flowers?  Peace starts right in your own backyard.  Though May 11th (Sierra Club's Dandelion Day) has already passed, why not join the growing number of people in honoring all that grows naturally on your property?  You'll be glad you did.
 
Blessings of Sunshine!
 
 
2011 Copyright Awen Environments.
 
Source:
Green, Emily, Concern Grows in Weed War, What Price Freedom from Dandelions? The EPA is Rethinking a Long-used Herbicide's Cancer Risk to Humans, LA Times, 2002.
 
 
 
 
 
 

6 Comments to Gardening with Nature: In Defense of Dandelions:

Comments RSS
Gail Woolrich on Tuesday, May 17, 2011 7:03 PM
Hi Clarissa, Your friend who has yet to call you but will. How timely your posting was as I am one of those people who live in Ontario and can't believe the number of dandelions that are on my lawn right now. Your article gave me a whole new appreciation of them. I will share your article with my colleagues who like me have been complaining about the number of dandelions. I too worry (worried) what the neighbours thought as it seems my yard has 100 times more than theirs. (no kidding!). I suspect that many of them stocked up on pesticides that are now banned here. I do wonder if the use of those pesticides is where many of the 'maladies' that seem to be so common now and were not when I was a child and money wasn't available to buy the pesticides. Anyway, I feel relieved to have read your column and will quit whining.
Reply to comment


Clarissa on Wednesday, May 18, 2011 9:37 AM
Hi Gail, so good to hear from you and I'm glad my article caused you to rethink your attitude toward dandelions. I know it's a struggle to be different, but we have to start somewhere. I'm really glad to hear you'll be sharing with your friends. The more information we can get out there, the better off we'll all be.
Reply to comment


Ron Laswell on Wednesday, May 18, 2011 10:51 AM
Great article, Clarissa! I'm sure your Winter in WNY was just as long as it was here in WI, and seeing something other than snow has been wonderful! (There is a ski hill just 30 miles from here that still has snow on the slopes!) As a kid, my father raised honey bees as a hobby. Not only did it teach not to fear bees, but like you, it taught me to also appreciate dandelions. Rather than having to drive somewhere to visit nature, I always thought that I should be able to just walk out my door - and there I was - in Nature! What a concept! So many "weeds" are both edible and medicinal.
Reply to comment


Clarissa on Thursday, May 19, 2011 9:29 AM
Thanks, Ron! I totally agree with you about walking outside your door and being immersed in Nature. We should all be able to do that and not have sterile, meticulous environments around us. I would love to have bees but unfortunately, neighboring properties in the subdevelopment behind our house are still using pesticides and I wouldn't want to risk losing all my bees.
Reply to comment


plumbing on Saturday, January 07, 2012 6:37 AM
Gardening is a very productive hobby. Aside from releiving your stress, it also helps our environment in refilling fresh air.
Reply to comment


www.awenenvironments.com on Wednesday, May 08, 2013 4:23 PM
er how many homes on my street are pursuing these offers.   I won't go into the virtues of dandelions here because I did that in a previous post "Gardening with Nature: in Defense of Dandelions."   Neverthe
Reply to comment

Add a Comment

Your Name:
Email Address: (Required)
Website:
Comment:
Make your text bigger, bold, italic and more with HTML tags. We'll show you how.
Post Comment

 
 
 
Website Builder provided by  Vistaprint