We live in the countryside, we have a huge garden, we are gardeners. Just this week in Hungary the sun has been kind and all sorts of plants and flowers are coming alive and bursting into colour. Our lawn (well area of grass!) is awash with bright yellow dandelions. They are the first cheerful signs of spring and living where we do accept they are part of the landscape.
Many gardeners frown upon this rampant plant and make great attempts to eradicate this supposedly troublesome weed. However, this ‘weed’ is a vital nectar source to many animals just coming out of winter hibernation looking for valuable food sources, in particular honeybees.
Dandelion’s common name comes from the leaves’ jagged appearance. The Normans called it dent de lion, or lion’s tooth. English speakers twisted the name into what we know today.
Interestingly, dandelion flowers also give off ethylene gas at sunset, the same gas given off by ripening fruit. Dandelions are sometimes used in orchards to increase the rate of ripening.
Dandelions actually fertilise the grass, their wide spreading roots loosen hard packed soil and aerate the earth. Also a mass display of yellow bobbing dandelions actually is very pleasant to look at. When they seed and become puffballs children love telling the time with them using them as dandelion clocks or making secret wishes whilst blowing them from their stems.
Of course, you can also eat dandelions in a variety of ways but if you value your honey, please leave at least a few to spread and multiply in your garden, you will be doing the bees a huge favour.