I POSTED THIS on my photo blog Today two weeks ago and it had a wonderful reception from readers. It occurred to me that the information here also applies to managing your backyard wildlife habitat as well as “Living Green With Pets” while keeping your yard healthy and pest-reduced without using toxic chemicals. I have a few others on “Today” and I’ll share those as well. In the meantime, please feel free to right-click and download the image above, and spread this important message!
. . . . . . .
Where else can a hungry honey bee find a meal early in the spring when nothing else is blooming? This little cluster of dandelions is a lifesaver for a bee with spring coming so late and many plants blooming even later, or not at all after a series of freezes. This is another in my series of “Save Our Native Bees” images. Please download and share, or just share this post!
Dandelions are native to all temperate areas of the planet and in that way are familiar to bees all over the planet, providing nectar and pollen as early as warmer temperatures awaken bees. Many other pollinating insects rely on them for a meal as well, such as butterflies, and despised as they are they are important for attracting pollinators to gardens everywhere.
I just don’t understand the hatred of a pretty little yellow flower. I’m so glad to see them in the spring—sometimes they’ll actually bloom during the spring thaw, between the snows, and they’re good to eat too. Their long tap roots break up hard soil and bring minerals up to the surface where plants with shorter roots can access them and they help fix nitrogen in the soil. All those minerals and the vitamins that are locked into the leaves of any verdant plant, as nutritious as any cultivated cooking green we might grow like spinach, chard or mustard greens, are in those pointy leaves for us to consume, and from root to flower dandelions have been a staple in the human diet and healing pharmacy for as long as humans have been foraging. The yellow flowers have been used to make a famous dandelion wine, and also a pale buttery yellow dye. I find them pretty inspiring for artwork as well.
And if you want to have fruits in your orchards and vegetables in your garden, nothing welcomes pollinators like a bright yellow dandelion.
So many chemicals are used to kill dandelions on lawns every year and this chemical use contributes to nonpoint source pollution of our waterways, the largest category of pollutants in the nation. Maintaining your lawn as a habitat and cutting your grass as tall as possible generally keeps them under control—I’ve never gone after the ones in my yard, never use any chemicals at all, and this spring I have about six dandelions. A friend with a new home and an undeveloped lawn was angry about the dandelions that sprung up opportunistically before the grass was even planted. She hated having a front yard full of dandelions. I asked her, after she sprayed them, what did she have left? Dirt. How attractive was that? At least she’d had something blooming before she killed them.
So honor this beautiful and willing flower that has added so much to our health and the beauty of our human lives on this earth, and had not been at all humbled by our attempts to ungratefully kill it off once we decided it no longer fit our ideal of beauty and usefulness. And most importantly, let if feed our endangered bees.
Wikipedia: Basic Information
Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association: Ten Things You Might Not Know About Dandelions
Mother Nature Network: Save the Dandelions. Save the Bees.
Off the Grid News: 8 Uses for Dandelions
Originally published April 26, 2014, “Why Dandelions are Essential” on Today.
And here is one good reason not to use chemicals to kill those pretty yellow flowers!
A sleek black panther was strolling through the wild grasses! This photo and the next were first published last year at this time under the title “The Panther and the Birthday Party”, but they illustrate a few points about letting dandelions, and native plants, grow in your hard, and managing your lawn in a different way. I think this is far prettier than a “perfect” green lawn, and notice that there is only one dandelion in view. I manage my back yard as a meadow habitat—remember, it’s only 75′ x 75’—and because the grass grows just a little taller and there are other wildflowers growing the dandelions really don’t stand a chance.
Mimi was imagining herself as a panther strolling through a meadow in search of…well, she was in search of just the right blade of grass. She’s typically not interested but it looks so luscious even to me, especially on a rainy day when it’s wet and looks quite bright green. But the wildflowers add to the ambience. Realize the Mimi is about 9 inches tall at her shoulders so everything around her looks quite big, even the dandelion.
But we did have an important destination, Mimi and me and my camera, because it was a very special day in our garden. Each morning or afternoon we check the progress of our plants and seeds.
The beans were having a birthday party! They were born today! Woo hoo! Don’t they look happy dancing there in the dirt?
And also read “Begin in Spring to Control Fleas” for other reasons to manage your lawn in a different way.
Read other articles in the category of Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat
If you’re interested in more information about Backyard Wildlife Habitats, choose the category Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat for a list of articles in this series, visit the Backyard Wildlife Habitat page for a series articles on developing your habitat or choose the category Backyard Wildlife Habitat to find all posts sharing the articles, photos, paintings and sketches, poetry and prose I’ve done that were inspired but my backyard.
All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.
Subscribe to The Creative Cat on your Kindle
Start with a 14-day free trial. You can cancel at any time during the free trial period. If you enjoy your subscription, do nothing and it will automatically continue at the regular monthly price of 99 cents. Click here to subscribe to The Creative Cat on your Kindle.
© 2014 | www.TheCreativeCat.net | Published by Bernadette E. Kazmarski
Weekly schedule of features:
Sunday: Essays, Pet Loss, Poetry, The Artist’s Life
Monday: Adoptable Cats, TNR & Shelters
Tuesday: Rescue Stories
Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork
Thursday: New Merchandise
Friday: Book Review, Health and Welfare, Advocacy
Saturday: Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Living Green With Pets, Creating With Cats
And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!