MySecretGarden

U.S.A., Washington State. USDA zone 8a. Sunset climate zone 5

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Where They Love Dandelions

First, let me ask the Pacific Northwest gardeners: Did I promise to bring back Spring from my trip to Europe? Did we have gorgeous weather the last several days? We did! I fulfilled my promise! Did I ever stear you wrong? What are you saying? It's raining again? Well, at least it's warm!
We came back from Germany, and the first  thing I want to tell you is: Back there, they love dandelions! Yes, Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), also known as lion’s tooth, puffball, blowball, and monk’s head. Yes, a plant which is called a major problem in turf, ornamental plantings, meadows, pastures, a major weed problem, a pesky weed, etc., etc., etc.
A square in Berlin
 Now, I know that dandelions are the flowers of Germany. They are everywhere.
Frankfurt's Palmengarten
They decorate lawns, road strips, kings' gardens and ordinary people's yards.
Rothenburg
 No one beheads them, poisons them, or abuses them in any way. Once in Rothenburg, I peeked into one garden and saw a lovely flowerbed filled with peonies, roses and other beautiful flowers. To reach that bed, my gaze went through a part of the yard filled by dandelions. Their stems were about a foot tall, and almost all of the flowers had finished blooming. The round airy white heads were ready to spread the seeds far and wide on their miniature parachutes. It was obvious that it didn't bother anyone. In Frankfurt's Palmengarten, in the middle of the beautiful border with blue and white flowers, proudly stood a huge, tall dandelion in all its beauty. None of the people working in the garden rushed to jerk it out.
Frankfurt's Palmengarten
I have an impression that dandelions as well as clover, buttercups and other wild flowers, are viewed as something normal, and a natural part of the landscape in Germany.
Berlin
I heard the dandelions whispering to me to say Hello to their American brothers and sisters who left Europe many years ago to find a better life. They told me they were preparing a campaign to condemn the nationwide prosecution of dandelions  in the States.  'Stop Dandelion Genocide' will be the name of the campaign.
Fussen
During our trip to Germany, I saw very few people mowing their lawns.
Potsdam
They obviously do that at some point, but not as often as we do. The grass clippings, and I mean grass of any kind, plus dandelions and clover, were left on the lawn.
I didn't notice a lot of mulch around the plants.
Rothenburg
At some point, I thought there was not any mulch. Then, I saw  big bark chips used in a couple of places, and small size volcanic rocks used here and there. But not that bright red mulch that I am used to seeing here in the U.S.
It seems to me that in Germany, as well as in Italy, people don't sweat too much about weeds and having a perfect, manicured garden.
Everything looks very informal, sometimes even a bit messy, but in a natural, relaxing way. The way that is very appealing to both dogs
and tired tourists:
Rothenburg
Berlin
I would be very interested to hear what German gardeners have to say about dandelions. I wrote about my personal impressions on the basis of what I saw. And I saw a lot. We were in Berlin, Potsdam, Munich, Fussen, Rothenburg, Heidelberg and Frankfurt and, believe me, we covered a lot of ground on foot!
Potsdam
P.S. Just a friendly reminder: Dandelions give far more vitamin A-beta than carrots, more lecithin than soybeans, more potassium than bananas,  more iron and twice the amount of vitamin A as spinach. Also, vitamins C and B, calcium, magnesium and more.
Potsdam
The last very interesting things about dandelions that I read are here:
1- Making Ford Cars from Russian Dandelions. 'At the Ohio State Agricultural research and Development Center they explore a possibility to make dandelions 'milk-white liquid  into fake rubber (to use in cars!)'.
2-Dandelions to the Rescue.
In Germany, the Fraunhofer Institute is working to 'improve' the dandelion as a new source of non-allergenic latex. 'Yes, they are doing genetic engineering on our favorite weed'.


***Copyright 2011 TatyanaS

30 comments:

  1. Hi Tatyana~~ I'm glad you're back safe and sound. I'm not sure you convinced me to love the lowly dandelion but I will admit that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But I guess I won't worry too much about those interlopers defacing my pristine lawn. After all I've got some German blood in me. :)

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  2. clearly I need to move to German. Nice post

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  3. Great post, Tatyana! And thank you for the lovely weather.

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  4. Sounds like a wonderful trip! About the dandelions - perhaps if you can't beat them, join them? :) I actually think they're pretty. When my daughter started mowing her lawn (with dandelions in it) my granddaughter cried "Oh, no!!! Those are all the wishes!". Now when I see dandelions, I only think of wishes.

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  5. One man's weed is another man's treasure, I guess lol.

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  6. Thank you for your lovely reflections

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  7. Thank you everyone! I can't say I loved the German type of landscape very much. But I love the fact that they don't use so much poison to kill weeds and they have such an easy approach to gardening.

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  8. Hi Tatyana,

    What a great trip, you have made me want to go out and for some dandelions! In my first house, I used to seee people collecting them in black plastic bags along the raodside to make dandelion wine.

    Eileen

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  9. Eileen, yes, this is what I heard -dandelion vine! I'd like to taste it!

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  10. Tatyana,

    Glad you had a safe and fun trip. I must be German as I have always loved dandelions. It is also a great source of nectar for the honey bee and butterflies as well. WE don't have many here in out garden we have planted lots of clover in the lawn.

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  11. I have been planning a post on the humble mistreated dandelion for awhile and have not had a chance. They are actually a very beneficial plant, that is why they were brought by farmers to America. They draw up nutrients with their deep tap root for shallower rooted plants and they are some of the first flowers to bloom in spring attracting beneficial pollenators. Plus being the nutritious green you mentioned to eat. I usually keep a patch to feed my chickens with, they LOVE them.

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  12. I like dandelions and think they are pretty in flower and seed. But the leave rosettes are horrid in the lawn without their pretty flower heads. I like seeing fields of them in spring at the farm. In the city, not so much. They do make great salad dressing though. A German (Pennsylvania Dutch) thing I guess.

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  13. Thanks for letting me travel through your eyes. Very interesting about the dandilions. Hope you are enjoying our vacation.

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  14. Wow, did not know that Dandelions are packed with so many vitamins! Your pictures are so beautiful, and they really gave me soothing feelings. Is that you as tourist sitting on the Dandelions covered grass? That is a very beautiful scene!

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  15. Very nice to see the different approach to dandelions. Giving them (or any "pretty" weed) their own space can be a good thing. I just get annoyed when they push out other flowers I want.

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  16. I guess the Germans are so busy making sure no one pinches their sun loungers at the hotel pools they have no time to worry about Dandelions. No, I don't share their passion for this weed Tatyana.

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  17. Vacation woo hoo !!!
    What's with all those dandelions?
    I have a few German bloggers on my list who I shamefully haven't visited in a long time....anyway maybe you can ask them.

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  18. Like the Germans, I also don't worry too much about weeds, especially dandelions. My thought is any ground cover that stands up to walking is worth it. I've tried eating them and don't like them very much, even the early spring dandelions that are supposed to be good in salad.

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  19. Looks like you enjoyed your trip to Germany. You covered a lot of ground! Glad you got to lie in a field of dandelions. I guess I'm a little bit more of a neat freak to leave them multiplying everywhere, but I like the idea of not poisoning all the time.

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  20. Looks like you had a fabulous trip! I wish more here would embrace dandelions. I love them too! So do our beneficial insects. I've never really understood the tirade some gardeners go on to eradicate them...but then again, I no longer maintain any lawns ;)

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  21. We have agreed before that we both love dandelions. Maybe we should form the Dandelion Lovers of America Society. I have also dug a lot of buttercups up out of my lawn and moved them into a bed with brunnera and lamiastrum 'Herman's Pride', and I get a lot of compliments.

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  22. Thank you my blogging friends!

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  23. I spent much time in my childhood making dandelion chains. Any my little grandson loves blowing the seeds into the air, they are like like flying fairies.

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  24. Now I know why a lot of local people don't seem to get my garden, I have European sensibilities. haha I love that more relaxed attitude toward lawns. I've always liked dandelions because the Goldfinches like to eat the flowers.

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  25. I read a thing once about dandelions...they are the Flower of the Army Brat, they scatter in the wind, grow where they land, and bloom in most any conditions...like an Army Brat.
    I lived in Frankfurt, spent a lot of time in the Palmengarten..long ago! Love Rothenburg, Berlin, Fussen (are we going to see pics of the castle?)and all the other spots on your trip. German gardens are wonderful.

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  26. Catmint, we used to make wreathes for our heads from dandelions!

    Sweetbay, you garden does look very relaxed and naturalistic!

    Janet, I have hundreds photos of those places that you mentioned. I'll try publish the best of them.

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  27. I don't stress over weeds either. I must be more European than American. Carla

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  28. I love the stone or gravel/concrete planters.

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  29. I actually really like dandelions.. They're my favourite flower and the council wont let us grow them in our garden! even though we dispose of the heads once they sprout seeds. I think a garden or field full of seeding dandelions would be the most beautiful sight!

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