by Pippa Greenwood

I'm not ashamed to admit this: I like dandelions. I think their flowers are beautiful, their leaves and form attractive [...] and the hoverflies seem to like them too.

Dandelion flowerI'm not ashamed to admit that I like dandelions. I think their flowers are beautiful, their leaves and form attractive (indeed considerably more so than many so-called ornamentals) and hoverflies seem to like them too.

They can be a pain when they invade flower borders or veg beds, and for some they're a menace in lawns. But I don't have a lawn, just grass with dandelions growing in it, and a tiny clump of daisies too.

Last year and the year before I hardly saw any dandelions. But this year I've never seen so many. The road verges are almost solid yello with their gorgeous golden flower heads, and a few uncultivated fields are beautifully decked in gold. What I want to know is, why? And is the dandelions' success story widespread or just in my corner of Hampshire?

I assume the weather conditions last year were responsible for the lack of dandelions, and perhaps the long, cold winter and burst or warm spring sunshine responsible for the recent dramatic display. I guess I'll not be alone in admiring their arrival - the weedkiller manufacturers may well be rubbing their hands in glee, too.

Will I be removing them from my grass? No, they'll be allowed to put on their fantastic display, though I may pull off their faded heads before the seeds form, to prevent them spreading. There was one I nearly removed from an elegant planting hole in the paved area where we often eat in the summer, but even that has been given a second chance. I watched the look of disbelieving horror on the face of a photographer who was here recently, I could almost hear him mutter, "and she's even got dandelions in flower". In a perverse way it gave me so much pleasure to see his narrow-minded disapproval that I decided to keep that dandelion there in pride of place!

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Gardeners' World Web User 05/05/2010 at 11:55

Pippa i agree and we also have a wonderful display of dandelions here in cardiff. Walking along in the park one day i remembered a bbc program by alyss fowler (edible garden) which said you could fry and eat dandelion flower heads. So into my bag went a dozen or so bright yellow dandelion heads. Later fried till crisp they tasted of honey and were the perfect complement to my lime leave and wild garlic salad. Long live the humble dandelion.

Gardeners' World Web User 05/05/2010 at 12:25

We have more dandelions this year too on the Berkshire/Wiltshire border. I think they look pretty in the lawn, but I know if it doesn't rain this weekend, my husband will be out there digging them all up and making his straight lines as he cuts the grass. I wonder why it's only men who have to mow in straight lines, or is it just that lawns are mainly cut by men?

Gardeners' World Web User 05/05/2010 at 15:47

I love dandelions as well, our pet rabbits love the leaves and of course the bees like them too, so please don't dig them up!

Gardeners' World Web User 05/05/2010 at 22:04

Dandelions are so prevalent this year due to the extremely cold winter we had this year. If anyone has ever tried to pull up a dandelion they will be aware of the extremely strong and deep roots that a dandelion has. With the damage to grass caused by the cold weather, it has taken a lot longer for the grass to establish itself this year and as a result this has given the advantage to all the dandelions lying in wait over the winter.

Gardeners' World Web User 06/05/2010 at 07:13

I love them, just as long as they're not on my allotment! I'm happy to let them grow on my "lawn", but then most of my garden has been invaded with wildflowers from the surrounding woodland and old borders. Most of the lawn is covered in wild strawberries! Shame the birds always get the fruit first.

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