Category Archives: Gardening

The Lowly, Regal Dandelion.

dandelionSo what is it, again, that we have against dandelions? Because it doesn’t really make sense to not like them, in my opinion.

I mean, they are really cute, they’ll grow anywhere with no additional water other than what they get in nature.

They reseed themselves like mad. They prevent soil erosion.

Every part of the plant is edible in some form (although those with allergies—and specifically latex allergies—will want to do some research first). They provide lovely, bright, cheerful flowers. They are the first food of the Spring for honeybees. They’re free, they make great ground cover, etc.

What’s not to like?

“It gives one a sudden start in going down a barren, stony street, to see upon a narrow strip of grass, just within the iron fence, the radiant dandelion, shining in the grass, like a spark dropped from the sun.” ~ Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887)

My next questions: Why aren’t we cultivating and growing dandelions for lawns (on purpose) instead of grass? Why aren’t we letting them take over our lawns?

It would be cheaper, more colorful, greener/more eco-conscious, easier, etc. They need less water than a grass lawn, use no chemicals, protect the watershed, provide food and tea, etc.

Is it because they have been classified as a noxious weed in some regions?

And who does this classification?

It’s probably my neighbor (who loves me, by the way, because of all the seeds from mine that blow into his yard), who really does love chemicals of all sorts. I don’t even know what any of them are. How can so many different types of chemicals—that do so many different, mysterious, deadly, chemically things—be made for just a lawn of grass?

Why are we obsessed with having grass lawns in the U.S.? And why must they be the chemical companies’ picture of “perfect?”

And why doesn’t anyone question where all those chemicals actually go?

They don’t just sit there on the grass. They really do, at some point, sink into the earth and just keep going. They are poison. They get into our entire eco-system and mess it up in all kinds of ways that I’m too scared to research (I’ll leave that to you to do for yourself if you need more info).

I call my lawn “the salad” instead of “the lawn,” because it is the correct color and height (most of the time), but is comprised of a wonderful mixture of greens—of which, grass is the minority.

Dandelions are smart. Their response to frequent mowing is to grow flowers on shorter stalks. As anyone who tries to keep a lawn free of weeds knows, the dandelion’s long tap root must be removed completely or the plant will come right back.”

I cannot find a reference to it, but I was told by someone that in Beatrix Potter’s time, dandelions used to be cultivated and grown in gardens, like flowers. And indeed, there are places right now where dandelions are a cash crop.

Dandelion greens are very spendy in the market place.

At one site, I found dried dandelion leaves for $29/pound.

“Vineland, New Jersey is the birthplace of Welch’s grape juice and the mason jar. Yet, it is more famous for growing dandelions. In Vineland, dandelions are a cash crop and home to one of many annual dandelion festivals.”

So Dandelions seem like a good lawn option. And they are so cheerful!

And even in their “worst” stage—you know, when the seeds have already taken flight and invaded the neighbors’ yards and they’re standing there all bare and leggy? They still have a kind of artistic beauty to them, don’t ya think?

(I can feel chemical-hounds with “perfect” lawns everywhere, shutter.)

Don’t have them already peeking up through your lawn and actually want to be the bane of your neighborhood and cultivate the same love that my neighbors have for me by starting some from seeds?

Good luck with that! And Amazon sells Dandelion seeds.

my dear john letter to Spring

Dear Spring,
Sorry, but I have to break up with you. I can’t stand your fickleness. Every time I let myself be seduced by your warmth, and I think it’s okay to open my heart and come out and play and bask in your warm spring snowregard, you turn a cold shoulder – frosty, even. And that frostiness kills. I can’t stand to have my heart broken by you again. I can’t allow myself to be seduced by your promises. I just can’t take that risk; it’s too painful. Besides, I’ve met someone else called Summer. And he promises me warmth. There is nothing frosty about him. I wish you the best, Spring, but we are done.
Best regards,
Grace

wildflower yard & a gift from a little Angel

Day 6 – Install rustic twig trellis

trellis3A few days ago I tilled up my entire front yard to make way for wildflowers and then put down soaker hoses to water them once they get tall.

Today I finished and installed the rustic twig trellis at the edge of the yard to mark the grass path that leadstrellis2 to the front door. I love the way they look like they are dancing together. I planted a few cucumbers, some morning glories and a couple of pea vines underneath it.

I just wonder if it will hold up to some of the wicked winds we get here – especially once it has vines growing on it. I love it.trellis1

While I was working on it, a young girl and her mom walked by and stopped to briefly ask me about my project.  The young girl then offered me 2 amazing gifts that were so sweet I about cried. She asked her mom first, her mom said okay, and then she came giftfromanangel1over and handed me a little dandelion flower. “I want to give you this,” she said. I thanked her and tucked it into the headband in my hair. And then as if just thinking of it, or maybe making the decision right then, she handed me a beautiful little rock with, “and this rock.”

It felt like a sign from the Universe – a gift from a little Angel – telling me to just be my quirky, weird self and to keep weirding-up the neighborhood, and my house and my life and the World in general. giftfromanangel2

She looked back a couple of times as they walked away down the road. I bowed to her in gratitude. Only she and I saw that exchange, her mom had already turned away and was walking. I don’t know your name, little Angel, but thank you for the message. I heard it loud and clear.

yard into wildflowers

Day 5 – Putting down soaker hoses

If you are following msoaker1y yard/lawn into wildflower garden journey, then you know I tilled up most of my grass in the front yard a few days ago.  On day 5, my friend Bonnie brought over soaker hoses, and we laid them allsoaker3 down over the seeds. The weather was chilly but good and we had lots of fun and got them all in place.

I led the charge in laughing at myself about this project and feeling too weird for my own life. We did a lot of laughing – thanks Bonnie!soaker5soaker4

in which I replace the entire front yard with wildflowers

Day One – Installation

I’ve been struggling here lately with my own quirkiness/weirdness. I found I was ashamed of my creativeness and the way I live my life. I think my neighbors must hate me and my yard and the way I have ‘trashed’ the neighborhood. When I explained this to my daughter, she asked, “Yeah, but could you be any other way and still be happy?” And the answer is: No.

So there has been this constant struggle to let out all the wildness, the quirky creativity and live in my constantly evolving, unfinished house/yard/life as they continue to change and be born. I feel kind of too weird to claim my life, my house, my yard – but also am driven1.front yard before.April2014 to continue to be me and do all those weird things. So the Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde show continues, b/c as I was telling my friend Bonnie about this problem, she began to gently chastise me, goading me back into myself. Telling me, sweetly, that these were the things she liked about me.

Okay, so I let her talk me into doing something that I have always wanted to do: turn my front yard into a wildflower garden. She did this years ago in her own yard. And b/c I knew it was supposed to snow/rain on Sunday, I wanted to get it done Saturday. So Friday night I called my friend Stephen to ask if he would help me by using his truck to haul a rented tiller over to my house from Home Depot on Saturday morning. He said yes, so I made him go get it at 7am – yikes! And I subjected my neighbors to the noise of a tiller at 7:30am in the morning – sorry! 2.front yard before. april2014

I tilled up most of the grass – except for some paths I kept, raked up all the grass, smoothed it out (more raking), put the sprinkler on it for a while to moisten the ground, broadcast Beauty Beyond Belief’s local wildflower seeds (along with a few I had collected), broadcast some mulchy, dried grasses over the top of it. Gently watered it down. Cleaned up my messtiller and then trimmed some tree and juniper branches to be able to use the grass paths I had left. I can totally recommend the Barreto hydraulic Tiller! That thing kicked some serious ass in no time at all.

So this Spring, wet snow is the very best thing that could happen, as it will stick all those seeds right where they are! Bonnie will be over on Wednesday to help me set up some soaker hoses so that I can put the water on a timer and save water and time, too.

It’s a good thing I started so early, b/c I did not get back in the house until 8:15pm at night. I will post updated photos as the process continues. Right now I am praying to the fae to watch over those seeds and get them started.

And so today I can’t even move, I am so sore from all that work! But soooo excited! Someone tell my bees how happy they are gonna be with all these flowers this summer!