Sunday, 24 April 2011

Our Magnificent Dandelion

I don't think there are many people out there who would view the dandelion as anything more than a pesky weed which should be eradicated from their lawns and flower beds at all costs. Thankfully our neighbour doesn't seem to think that way and their lawn is a stunning carpet of yellow at the moment and is an absolute joy to behold! I haven't photographed it as it is on private property so you will just have to trust me!

I want to dedicate this blog post to the wonders of this stunning flower. It will be an unusually long post for me, with a lot of words as well a pictures.

I was fortunate to have lived on the edge of the countryside and spent many a happy day playing in the fields near to the village, I would often pick the flowers, to take home and put in a jam jar.
The next period in my life when I actually started to think of this flower as being of any use was when my children had pet rabbits, then we would gather armfuls of the leaves for the rabbits to munch away on.
Last year I was bought a camera and the way I viewed flowers changed totally. I noticed how absolutely stunning they are. In fact I only noticed this year how similar they are to Van Gogh's sunflowers!!!

Browsing through a book the other day I came across a list of colloquial name for these flowers in  - 'Food for Free' by Richard Mabey, please take time to read these!!!!
'Bum_Pipe', Burning Fire', 'Clocks', 'Clock Flower', 'Clocks and Watches', 'Combs and Hairpins', 'Conquer More', 'Devils Milk-Plant', 'Devils Milk-Pail', 'Dog-Posy', 'Fairy Clocks', 'Farmer's Clocks', 'Golden Suns, 'Horse Gowan', 'Irish Daisy' 'Lay A-Bed', 'Lion's Teeth' 'Male', 'Mess-A-Bed', 'Pishamoolag', Piss-A-Bed', Pissimire', 'Pittle Bed', 'Priest's Crown', 'Schoolboy's Clock', 'Shepherds Clock', 'Shit-A-Bed', 'Stink Davine', Swine's Snout', 'Tell-Time', 'Time Flower', 'Time-Teller', 'Twelve O'Clock', 'Wet-Weed', 'Wishes'.
It goes without saying that some I like more than others and I was in two minds whether I should include all of them or not!
Apart from feeding the rabbits, dandelions have other uses which may one day come in handy to know.
You can collect the flower heads to make a dandelion wine. Apparently you only need 2 litres of flower heads; a gallon of water; a Campden tablet ( whatever one of those is); 4 oranges; 3lb of sugar; 1 teaspoon of wine yeast and 1 teaspoon of yeast nutrient.
You can also collect the leaves for inclusion in a salad although you should be warned that it is also a mild diuretic!
So for the time being I am happy to enjoy it for it's beauty and enjoy walking down dandelion lined lanes such as these:-

It won't be long before all this yellow turns to white fluffy fairy clocks instead - and that will be another post but for now here is just a taster of what is to follow.