Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Simple Suggestion #122 revisited... Learn to like dandelions

When I first wrote this moodling about dandelions in 2012, I had a much different attitude toward them than I do today. I spent hours and hours with my "weed hound," digging them out of our lawn in the company of my neighbour, Olga, who was doing the same in her yard. We were in solidarity, complaining about how the seeds from the little area park across the street blew into our yards and messed up our turf.

Since then, Olga has moved into senior's housing, we've used lasagna gardening to replace our front lawn with a big perennial bed, and my view of dandelions has changed. I've come to see them as a valuable part of our Edmonton ecosystems, providing the earliest food source for our bee populations.

Bees, both wild and domestic, aren't as plentiful as they used to be, thanks to climate change, pesticides and herbicides. Every year I seem to run across bees that aren't doing well, that seem to be reeling from illness (pesticide use?) or maybe it's just exhaustion because they work so hard. Regardless, the bee deaths I keep witnessing have distressed me to the point that it's a lot harder to pull up all the yellow flowers that so many of us view as the scourge of the green rectangles we cultivate in front of our homes.

So I've come up with something of a compromise. I let the yellow flowers bloom, and when they turn white, I pick and toss them if I have time. White seed heads aren't much use to bees anyway, and using so many hours of my life digging weeds isn't a great way to spend energy when I could be planting more flowers.

I've come to a place where I can live with imperfection in my yard, especially if it means more food for our bumbling friends. So rather than digging up all those dandies, I keep them down to a dull roar by pulling them when I can. Sometimes after a good rain I am lucky and get them out right to the end of their roots, but most times, they have a chance to bloom again later in the season. More bee food.

And it's okay, because perfect green rectangles are highly overrated, and our pollinators can't be! Our planet's food chain would be much more secure if we could garden like God does, playing no favourites -- and just learn to like dandelions, or at least put up with a few here and there!

P.S. Looking for more Simple Suggestions? Click here.

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