So what Does a Dandelion Have to Say? The one above looks a bit forlorn considering the mention of the Balance of Nature.
The tiny seeds are part of a small army the plant sends off into the world. Dandelions are not taking over the world or anything, but they did get me thinking of things that are or prove detrimental in one way or another. One seed sent me on a journey through thought and into a world of bigger questions.
The seed above is all about balance. The balance of nature, balancing of time left in the year, the balance of how all organisms live with and affect one another; or out-compete their neighbors, a dandelion specialty. They produce in such high numbers that it is hard not to notice their existence.
The fact they are so disliked in our lawn and landscapes, helps keep their numbers in check, at least where we don’t want them. Some do it organically with corn gluten or digging willpower, while many do it with herbicides containing 2,4-D, MCPP and dicamba. Either way dandelions are on the receiving end of a lot of herbicide, a virtual warfare on their existence. But they prevail and still keep new ones plentiful.
Sheer and excessive numbers of anything implies that there is not balance or a harmonious order. It also pretty much guarantees warfare in one way or another.
Whether it is the lowly dandelion, or it is people over stepping their bounds, whenever too many assume a home not their own, a conflict develops. Just read the daily headlines of Israel and Gaza if you think to turn a blind eye.
One might think to say, what if the whole world was made up of caring gardeners? Considering gardeners are the worst at deciding what stays and what should be eradicated, I would question that too.
The equilibrium paradigm is rare in nature because environmental determinants and biologic competition cause instability, uncertainty and at worst upon reaching a climax, chaos.
So what does “balance of nature” mean if it means anything at all? It is such an ethereal thought. Nature is all that we see and know, but that is precisely the problem.
The term ‘nature’ is a social construct and very vague as defined by mankind. We determine what is allowed and what is not. We feel entitled, even compelled to control and shape the world’s ecosystems, both big and small. What we easily control is gardens, the very thing we lovingly call and generalize as nature.
Ironically, gardening is an unnatural activity, a social construct. It is a group of plants in an unnatural order. As much as many try to do good for the environment and creatures, we are still shaping with what we deem allowable.
We are creating space that nature would not create. Introducing species new to habitats, and reforming ecosystems. If a dandelion was inherently virtuous, it would be anything but a weed, certainly it is a matter of perspective. Ironic, since it is food and sustenance to some, medicinal to others, and vehemently hated by many.
It is our collective attitude towards what constitutes a ‘pest’ that needs reconsideration, mainly because pests require pest control. That presents a dilemma for those caring for the environment. It is a moral dilemma in areas around the world deeming certain people in the same regard.
The dandelion has an amazing ability to live just about anywhere in the world, barring those of extreme temperature, but has a preference for the temperate climates of the Northern hemisphere. Quite a feat for a lowly weed. The dandelion inhabiting places it did not originate seems to be why it became successful also. How did it get here? By people who saw value in it.
Dandelions are resistant to many types of herbicides and rarely are bothered by pest or disease. They will thrive in almost any soil condition, even the worst of waste and disturbed soils. Not every plant is as tough as a dandelion.
Maybe the lesson the successful dandelion is teaching is to select plants that thrive and survive where you live, indigenous or not, that make peace with the climate in which they live. This thought is not a new one, but one to consider in making the gardens of our future. Extrapolate that thought to the world and would we be in this same contentious predicament all the time?
So back to balance. If the dandelion lives so prolifically and can self pollinate, along with being pollinated by insects, does that mean it has become a plant out of control in nature? How does nature put the brakes on anything out of control? It has its own processes in which to do this.
Nature is always adapting to meet a climax, and thresholds are constantly modified or crossed. The theory of a nature in balance has been to a great extent debunked to where anything but a balance prevails. Yet, the idea and construct persists. Is disaster nature’s recourse? Next in the series of Dandelion Days, we look at recourse.
Missed a post in this series? The next post asks the biggest questions.