It’s a rather grey and gloomy Friday evening here in Cardiff so I think we need some brightening up. There aren’t a lot of flowers around now that autumn is well and truly here but the dandelions and their lookalikes continue to provide little bursts of sunshine on grassy swards, the rudbeckias (at least, I think that’s what they were) have just finished a magnificent show at my local park and, at the cemetery, the Fox and cubs blooms are adding wonderful spots of orange to the autumnal landscape. Happy weekend, everyone!
Yellow is the colour of happiness, optimism, enlightenment, creativity, hope, cheerfulness, sunshine … and the quintessential colour of Spring.
Yellow is also the most luminous in the colour spectrum – the colour that most easily catches the human eye but, more importantly, the eyes of bees, so it’s no surprise that yellow is the most common flower colour. Here in Wales, after experiencing only my second British winter in thirty-odd years, I have been delighted by the coming of Spring, and both charmed and uplifted by the yellow wildflowers everywhere. First came the Dandelion and Daffodil, the Lesser celandine and the paler shade of the Primrose and, in boggy places, the Marsh marigold.
Now, as spring becomes summer, the succession of yellow continues with fields and meadows carpeted in yellow. We have the many varieties of Buttercup, vibrant Bird’s foot trefoil and Yellow archangel, the Dandelion look-alike Cat’s ear and Nipplewort, and in boggy places, Yellow flag iris. It is truly glorious.
One of my favourite wildflowers is the humble dandelion. On grey winter days it provides a welcome burst of cheery yellow, and seeing the fluffy seed heads brings me fond childhood memories, of dandelion clocks to tell the time from the number of blows it takes to remove the seeds, and of making a wish when the last of the seeds blows away.
Officially labelled Taraxacum officinale agg., the common name dandelion comes from the French dent de lion, lion’s tooth, a reference to its deeply toothed leaves. In England, it is also commonly called ‘wet-the-bed’ and ‘pissy-beds’, from the idea that just touching a dandelion causes bed-wetting. Luckily, that’s not true, though the dandelion is a scientifically proven diuretic.
In fact, the dandelion is an extremely useful plant. It’s a good source of beta-carotene, is rich in Vitamin C and the B-complex vitamins and also high in protein, so has been used for thousands of years to improve the functioning of the liver, gallbladder, and urinary and digestive systems. And, though I’ve never tried it, dandelion is also widely used to make wine. So, the next time you’re tempted to eradicate these ‘weeds’ from your garden, think again and, instead, make use of Nature’s bounty.