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.
They decorate lawns, road strips, kings' gardens and ordinary people's yards.
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.
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.
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.
During our trip to Germany, I saw very few people mowing their lawns.
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.
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:
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!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