The Misunderstood Dandelion

“Oh my, such a beautiful lawn,” admired my dear wife as we drove past a residence with a lawn full of dandelions. And I agreed, the lawn was a rich yellow and green, populated with thousands of the lovely flowers and brightly contrasting against the rigidly manicured adjoining lawns with their proud absence of a single dandelion.

Why have we done this to the poor dandelion, condemning it as an undesirable member of our lawns? One of the earliest harbingers of spring, anxiously awaited by bees and others as a nectar source, a flower that brings much-needed color to the coming of spring, the dandelion deserves a higher status in this world. Is this pervasive attitude the by-product of lawn care companies, continually reprimanding us for allowing dandelions in our yards? And possibly also the ingrained perception of our neighbors that our lawn needs to be colorless and devoid of the lovely flowers?

Somehow, as our civilization decided that lawns should be “neat”, containing no unrestrained plants of color, only allowing color in predefined flower beds, we have fallen into the trap of feeling it a flaw in our management of our homes to let a dandelion appear on the lawn, unchallenged.

Where did all this begin? Designing Central Park in New York City didn’t help, as that created the aura of an endless carpet of grass. And that was followed by that enemy of all suburban husbands, the lawn mower. Yes, the lawn mower. That monster creation turned a perfectly fine lawn of varying grass heights into a regimented state, encouraging innocent residents to extend their decorating influence from the home into the yard. A home could no longer pass muster for being neat inside, it must also be neat outside. And that created the world of ‘lawn management’, with flower beds and gardens and edged driveways and patios—and mountains of labor for residents who had previously enjoyed their weekends by pursuit of more personal interests.

And that, dear friends, caused the death of the dandelion. Will we ever see a heart-warming field of dandelions again? Only in our dreams. Will there be dandelions in our yard? Horrors! What would the neighbors say?