What Can We Learn From a Dandelion?

What is in my garden this November? Why the lowly dandelion and his numerous friends. What can we learn from this plebeian of the garden?

In the 70°, Indian Summer weather here in the Falls, the dandelions are inhabiting profusely, but most have dried to produce seed. It got me thinking in a philosophical sense. You will see where this all leads in a five-part, consecutively posted series, Dandelion Days.

The dandelions made it through our weather in the twenties, and now are feeding the remaining pollinators (a lone one above) when much of the garden has retired for the season. Why are they still working hard when much is resting around them?

The industrious, dogged dandelions are up early in Spring and late to rest in the Fall. They decorate our gardens with their cheery yellow faces to the best of their abilities, considering how unwanted and loathed that they really are by mankind.

They proliferate the summer despite the harsh treatment of lawn services and gardeners armed with dandelion diggers or Roundup. By their sheer numbers alone make the job tough and painstaking as a deterrent.

With their long taproot tunneling into the earth, they gather moisture when other garden plants lay dry. Not native to here, they have made themselves at home, adapting to varied conditions.

Remember not too long ago when the dandelion was fresh, bright and very yellow? They do pop up where they are the prettiest, but also where they might be noticed and culled.

It is almost like they are pleading for a pardon, delighting us in their spring show to wear on our sense of aesthetics, or thumbing their petals at us in contempt. You decide, but it does look like intent.

They look loveliest in a Spring lawn, but wear out their welcome quickly with harsh looking, basal rosettes and dusty seed heads. Unfortunately, they have yet to master the total look gardeners desire.

Now faded and pumping out seed into the wind, they have the last laugh on both gardeners seeking to work with nature and those decidedly not. The seeds are tiny, but will make hundreds of copies of themselves to the bane of gardeners everywhere. They will find every crack in the sidewalk to every soft, moist patch of the gardens. Against all odds, they flourish. It kinda parallels mankind’s existence too. There was a time where we faced harsh odds as well. Is that in the distant past, or is it still alarming the future?

A dandelion can speak volumes if we listen. And what does it say? Well it’s going to tell you in the next post, so stop back!

This is a five-part series, and where it leads might surprise you. And…


For the GBBD readers, there is much more than dandelions in the garden, so here is a few of the colorful bloomers amongst about twenty more. Look back though this month’s posts if you want to see more of the garden blooms. The post Snaps of November 2012 Garden Glimmer is a monthly series I am posting. You can compare it to November 2011 in the post, November 2011 Garden Revisited, also part of the new monthly series. My garden is well covered each month, but I like to make each post have more than just the images.

Also this month:

Linking this post to posts around the world, May Dreams Gardens.

Carpet Rose


Iceberg Roses


Missed a post in the previous series? This series on macro photography has much more in store. Two useful posts are prepared and awaiting their turn. When Dandelion Days conclude, there is more MACRO.

Also a series on Creativity:

About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at: http://gardenwalkgardentalk.com
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53 Responses to What Can We Learn From a Dandelion?

  1. That’s a beautiful story on the dandelion. Lookin forward to the other parts. =>

  2. A.M.B. says:

    You’ve managed to make the lowly dandelion beautiful! My daughters actually really like dandelions and they think that just about every yellow flower is one.

  3. My new approach to dandelions is to pass them by and chant “It’s not a weed, it’s not a weed …” Then I don’t have to spend hours pulling them.

  4. Andrea says:

    Dandelions have relatives here at least in terms of habit, but we don’t have them. Still i read what you said, and i love most those white seed dispersal parts.

  5. Brian Comeau says:

    One benefit of not being an avid gardener is not being bothered by dandelions… Except in allergy season. That is a whole other story. 🙂

  6. If dandelions weren’t so prolific, we would treasure them in our gardens. The flowers are pretty and the seed heads are cool, too.

  7. HolleyGarden says:

    I can’t wait to hear what the dandelions are saying. Since I learned they were edible, I think they are trying to feed us, if we were interested!

  8. julieadolf says:

    Looking forward to the follow-up in the dandelion series–but I’m especially excited to find some quiet time to spend with your macro series! Can’t wait–now, if only my children would get well and go back to school…sigh… 😉

  9. I cannot wait to learn more and here I thought these little things were just a nuisance invading my yard! Have a Great One:)

  10. Barbie says:

    I love Dandelions – herbally so beneficial and I love them scattered around my lawn.

  11. b-a-g says:

    I don’t have a problem with dandelions. Mine don’t say much.

  12. Scott Weber says:

    Great post with gorgeous photos (as always)! Can’t wait for the next installment 🙂

    • My next installment has photos in all stages of bloom to seed, but really the post is serious in nature. I hope that does not disappoint because so many expect me to have the dandelions talking and humorous.

  13. Helene says:

    I don’t have a problem with dandelions, I haven’t seen a single one all year, they all disappeared since I no longer have a lawn. By the way, dandelion wine is beautiful, I have had it several times, I used to have a neighbour in Norway who made it every year. Useful little plant 🙂

  14. Dandelions are the flower of the military brat. Their symbol. The dandelion is scattered to the far reaches of the earth, grows just about anywhere, and pretty resilient. Love your photos of said bloom. As a military brat, I appreciate it as a symbol of our youth.

  15. wifemothergardener says:

    How nice to have real flowers! 🙂

    I have wondered if they would be so loathsome if they had been pink? Would not everyone hail them then? They have a pink cousin, which is what made me wonder about that.

  16. I just love the macros of the dandelion seed head with all its feathery softness…just beautiful. I think I am mellowing when it comes to dandelions. Although I will still pull them if I see them, I do admire them in fields and at the edge of the forest.

    • I try to pull them too. So many get a reprieve because they chose to grow where it is difficult to get them out. I like them at the farm, but the farm owner does not. He does use chemicals (commercial Roundup) between the crop rows where before they did not. They used to just drag and till.

  17. Carolyn says:

    I actually have a secret love affair going on for Dandelions. Their blooms are such a cheery yellow and their seed-heads the delight of all nature. As long as they are in other people’s gardens, we get along just fine.

    • I am just like you. I think they are pretty, but prefer them at the farm. I recognize they have a useful place in this world yet like most, think they should be happy elsewhere. But, that is not nature’s choice, and I am constantly being thwarted in my efforts by her. It is hard to crowd them out too. I am amazed as they fight their way through certain plants. They are the plants I can not dig them out from either.

  18. bethstetenfeld says:

    Now you have me curious about the next post–especially because you say it has a serious message. We don’t have many Dandelions (well we have a few) in our lawn, because we treat it with Corn Gluten Meal. It thwarts the Dandelions and other weeds encourages the grass. I like the idea of a sod-free garden, but haven’t accomplished it yet. Looking forward to what you have to say next, Donna.

    • Serious in thought, but unlikely in practicality (third post). It is always good to think about what should have become and hope that it could, yet understand the obstacles that make it improbable. My questions are unanswerable yet still worth the dream.

      I have little grass, but the dandelions are not picky where they grow. I gave up when they entered the cotoneaster and carpet rose bed. Just to prickly to get them out of there without body armor.

  19. lula says:

    I find rather educative when I am told to stop and pay attention to routines, in plants there are so many that we consider superfluous, until we are told he stories behind them, looking forward to reading the next posts!

    • Me too. I find value in study. Often when paying attention as you noted, our mind wonders and we see so much more of value. I admire the weeds because they are so determined and we are so resolved at their removal for our prized plants. Many prized plants originated from the weeds, but left the quality of purposefulness behind.

  20. I’ve always wondered why there couldn’t be some transgenic cross between the dandelion and some productive root crop. And breeding for a less bitter green. Could you imagine the productivity and nutrition potential. So I’m waiting to hear are they saying anything nice?

  21. I never really understood the fight against the dandelion. I think they are quite pretty. Of course, I am not a lawn person so weeds are welcome in the lawn as long as they stay green and blend in. I always mean to try dandelion greens but never get around to it.

  22. Marisa says:

    i love the bright sunny yellow of the dandelions, and they look just beautiful in combination with the mauves and blues in a couple of your photos.

  23. Donna, I like dandelions too. Your beautiful photographs reinforce my penchant for them. I look forward to the rest of the series. P. x

  24. Too bad we feel the need to poison the world to get rid of these flowers. We need to enjoy them. Never understood the fight against them.

  25. Rose says:

    I admit I don’t appreciate the dandelions popping up in my garden, and I get frustrated trying to dig out those long taproots. But I rather like them popping up in the lawn or elsewhere. I’m sure we can learn a thing or two from these tough survivors.

    Lots of lovely blooms still in your garden, Donna!

    • Rose, the dandelion really is a survivor. I think that is what is so impressive about it. I went to a talk given by a Native American woman who listed all the ‘medical values’ of the plant. It was astonishing to say the least what ailments the dandelion could help.

  26. Les says:

    I am old enough to remember when people did not obsess over dandelions in their lawn, they could even be eaten if desired. You could even by white clover to add to the mix if you wanted.

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