Spring is sprung, and with it that blight of suburbia known as the dandelion has also sprung. Do not tell me that they are merely wildflowers. Do not say, “If it’s green, let it grow.” Do not tell me that dandelions are delicious when prepared correctly or that they are medicinal herbs or that I should enjoy them instead of cursing their existence.
Dandelions are weeds, vicious, sneaky weeds that masquerade as innocent yellow wildflowers but turn into crazed white-headed demons over night. The slightest puff of wind turns their fluffy white crown into a hundred seed parachutes and sends the offspring on a mission to create more demons of the same kind.
I’ve tried to ignore the spring greening of the lawn and the sprouting of the early crop of weeds. But this past weekend, I finally had to face the inevitable and begin the first round of that detested annual chore known as “weeding”.
When I moved outside of the city, I dreamed of life where the air was fresh, the living easy, the lawns polished. I would have a yard full of flowers, a few tomato plants, enjoy the sunshine and be a weekend gardener.
Then the demon weeds that live only to spoil the hopes, dreams, aspirations and lawns of suburbanites ruined it all.
Last weekend I prepared for the annual weed war. Gardening gloves donned, trowel in right hand, weed spray in the left, I pulled out some of the larger yellow-headed monsters from the flowerbeds where the ground was soft. But soon the brittle weeds began to break off at the root.
Dandelions can quickly reincarnate themselves from the smallest bit of root that is left behind. It is easier to spray them than to pull them. But then it is weeks before the hideous invaders finally die. And in their last gasp of life, they go to seed and recreate themselves a hundred times as their seed is flung to the wind.
It seems hopeless, and the war is merely in the first skirmish. There are many more to battles left to fight before the end of the summer.
I think I’ve eradicated the front line of defense. Of course, they have legions of reinforcements in the lawn. I can scarcely bear to look at it, bright green with yellow polka dots. I realize that the enemy has me outnumbered. I retreat and desperately call in reinforcements from the local lawn service. “Only one treatment?” they ask. “You will not get the results you want.”
I can’t maintain it like a golf course. “I’ll just hold them back for now and counter attack later.” The weeds will win. They always do. But I will never surrender. Thistle, plantain, burdock, wild onions and clover all dig in to resist. But the evil dandelion is the leader of the squad.
Warfare will rage until the end of summer.
Weeds always invade places where they are not welcome. Weeds are prolific reproducers, and grow where other plants cannot. Weeds are survivors and take away the sun and water from more desirable plants.
I know that into each life a little rain must fall and in each garden a few weeds apparently must grow. But not my garden, and not if they are dandelions. I yearn for flowers — real flowers — petunias, and marigolds, begonias and snapdragons.
I will check out the bedding plants down at the garden center and select my summer annuals. I will plant them and nurture them and maybe they will last at least until the heat of mid-summer. I crave flowers that behave themselves and stay in the flowerbeds instead of invading the lawn looking for trouble.
And if you should be one of those folks that loves the dandelion, come on over and you can have all you want.