While I was gardening

The art of gardening and the science of life.

The Tenacity of Life, part 1

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Taraxacum officinale, Dandelion
On a late summer afternoon, I met a good friend for lunch at our favorite cafe.  The café overlooks a shallow reflecting pool which is bordered on one side by a mass planting of Phyllostachys fortuneii, Dwarf Bamboo.  Some of its leaves display white stripes but most are solid green.  The bamboo has created a thick wall, about 2 feet in height, in their concrete and metal garden.  The effect is of control, order, and symmetry – that all is well in this small corner of the world.  And as the café is often noisy and chaotic, the garden offers a peaceful contrast.

As I returned to the parking lot after lunch, I noticed a tiny dandelion struggling through a crack in the cement.  Knowing how well these plants survive in my garden, I was confident that this one would not only grow but produce a multitude of achenes before succumbing to the harsh fate of a parking lot plant.
As tough and resilient as bamboo, dandelions withstand most anything humans subject them to. I’ve never succeeded in eradicating the plants or their seed from my garden – and my efforts have been heroic.  Among those efforts – drenching the foliage with vinegar on a hot, sunny day; wetting and loosening the soil around the tap root and pulling it out (resulted in the acquisition of an 11” long tap root!) but breaking off the root tip in the process; and deadheading the flowers before they set seed.  And yet they remain a strong presence in my garden.

As I drove home I paid close attention to the weeds in medians, sidewalk gardens, and front lawns.  Almost all were dandelions.  I had to admit that their defiance is admirable.

And at home, here they are – sprinkling my yard with bright blasts of yellow.   Sure, why not?  It’s comforting to know that Taraxacum officinale will be around long after we are gone.


Author: dphare2014

Horticulturist, Lead Steward Carkeek Park Demonstration Gardens, Author

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