Just about a year ago I discovered my Dad’s old Flymo sitting unused for over a decade, and brought it back to life. It served us well over the last year, but finally gave up the ghost in the middle of the lawn about a fortnight ago, much to the delight of the dandelions. I have to admit to a soft spot for dandelions, with their bright sunny faces that open up to the sun. I can relate well to those flowers that go back to sleep when the sun isn’t on them.
I don’t know who decreed that dandelions are weeds, when they are really so pretty, so much tougher than any cultivated variety of plant and no trouble at all to grow. I am not alone in this way of thinking. My mother agrees, and when, as a child, I brought her bunches of dandelions she always found a little vase or jam-jar for them. (They take their revenge when you pick them by staining your hands with the sticky white substance in their stems.)
We have a neighbour who has not been well lately, and her front garden is a joyful mass of golden yellow mini-manes. She obviously isn’t offended by them. The diuretic properties of dandelions are well attested, and the French even gave them the unsavoury name of pis-en-lit (wet the bed) which is a bit mean. Young dandelion leaves are also delicious in salad. And I maintain that a meadow full of blooming dandelions is one of the most cheerful sights in the world.
As we had no functioning lawnmower and it kept raining, I had a good excuse to leave the dandelion to rule supreme in the front garden for a while, closely contested by the forget-me-nots that are rioting and spreading well beyond the bounds of their beds. Why are they not also classed as weeds? There seems little point in weeding a garden that is soon to be replaced by paving so I let them have their day.
However, King Dandelion’s reign was short lived because “the family” arrived for my mother’s 97th birthday, and one of their presents was to tidy the garden. Their trip to the garden centre even resulted in a brand new Flymo. New brooms sweep clean, new Flymos mow even cleaner. The lawn is once more fit for a game of bowls, although there is a fringe of little yellow suns all around it in the flowerbeds and rockery and they keep popping up in any crack they can find in the crazy paving.
The birthday was a very happy one, by the way, spread out over several days, which made it less stressful for the Birthday Girl. Family and friends came for birthday cake and tea on the Day, bearing an orchid and beautiful bouquets of roses, lilies, freesias, chrysanthemums and carnations, although the old old friends were sadly conspicuous by their absence: there were some congratulatory phone calls and 30 cards, but nobody over 80 made it in person. The weather was reasonably compliant, and Mom enjoyed the ride out into the country for lunch. She also enjoyed her three-course meal at her favourite place, and proved that even at 97 there’s nothing wrong with her appetite or palate.
The quest for a bluebell wood was vain, although single plants are now starting to open up in gardens so perhaps it will be third time lucky next time, when we are once again invited out and will have the chance to investigate some of the Forest of Mercia. Fingers crossed! In the meantime, we have a house full of lovely flowers – some of which look very like big dandelions!