Guardian of the Dandelion

Dandelions are acknowledged to have a bad press – they are regarded by some as weeds, getting in the way of the preferred buttercup and daisy; they are seen as invasive, taking over your pristine lawn and making untidy clumps; and they smell, oh that smell. So when I started researching the dandelion to supply some counterbalance to the negativity surrounding these so called plant ‘pests’, I was a bit surprised to find that one paper of news has single-handedly been singing the praises of the dandelion for some time. In fact the Guardian has written supportively about the dandelion in 13 articles over the last twelve years.

Generally these articles co-incide with the arrival of spring and the first action necessary for the purported control of weeds. Sometimes, there have been lean years with no acclaim (2010,13,17-19) but for other years there was clearly a need to push home a message and so there would be multiple writings – two in 2009, 2012, 2016 and THREE in 2020 (although one of these may not count since it was a letter – from a journalist!).

Separating the articles out by a few months occurs too – perhaps to re-emphasise a message – as in May of 2016 and September of 2016; and in 2009 there was one in May and one the following month in April. But one each month for three months does seem to be belabouring the message (see February, March AND April of 2020)

Perhaps to fool us into not noticing their frequency, these articles came from different wings of the Guardian, from The Ethical in April of 2009 but the in May of the same year. They came from Wordofmouth in April 2012 but Ask Alys had already been there in March of that year too. The later Lifestlyle section’s Gardening segment features consistently from 2016 through to last month’s piece by James Wong. But the Environment and Food sections feature too, as do two Editorials, one from May 2011 and the other 2014, who, although the content differs, peculiarly present with the same title – ‘In praise of dandelions’.

So, I think the message for the Guardian reading population is clear – do your bit for the environment – both insect and plant based, your physical and mental health, and learn to love these smelly not-pest plants and invite them into your garden (or some would think preferable, a garden near you!)

Here, for those who are interested, are the writings in the Guardian since 2009 about the dandelion:

Delicious dandelion dishes. 07 April 2009, in Ethical by Sanjida O’Connell
Overrun by dandelions? Is it time you learned to love them? 31 May 2009, in by Carol Klein
In praise of … dandelions09 May 2011, Editorial
Ask Alys: is there an organic way to get rid of dandelions? 16 March 2012, in Gardening Advice, by Alys Fowler
How to make dandelion wine04 April 2012, in Wordofmouth, by John Wright
In praise of … dandelions20 August 2014, Editorial
Let dandelions grow. Bees, beetles & birds need them. 12 May 2015, in, by Kat Bradbury
Let dandelions have their day in the sun. 01 May 2016, in Lifestyle, by James Wong
Give your dandelion a closer look: you may find a new species. 07 September 2016, in, by Robbie Blackhall-Miles
Help bees by not mowing dandelions, gardeners told01 February 2020, in Food, by Phoebe Weston
Free veg: the many uses of nettles and dandelions21 March 2020, in Environment, by Tom Hunt
Dandelions, the plant that keeps on giving10 April 2020, in Environment/Letters, by Pat Lambert
Why dandelions blow away some plant collectors16 May 2021, in Lifestyle, by James Wong

You will find everything of note about dandelions in the articles above. I think the Guardian writers have done my work for me and so I will finish here. I will, however, leave you with a recipe, not from the Guardian, but from The Kitchin’s Megan Gordon and her Dandelion Pumpkin Seed Pesto. Enjoy.

Image credit: Megan Gordon

Weekly Recipe