Dandelions

Dandelions by Ellen Collington, 2005

Dandelions ought to be the Ontario provincial flower! I have looked and looked for trilliums this year and have not seen even one. But the dandelion is ubiquitous and tenacious, coming up year after in even the most hostile environments, casting its feathery seeds to the winds and settling in for a second crop… and a third… and a fourth.  Spring seems to love yellow… the dandelions appear along with the daffodils and forsythia. Sunny yellow, against so many colours of spring green! Why are there  no great poems about dandelions?

Many homeowners in our neighbourhood hire professional gardening services, and would be aghast if a dandelion appeared on their pristine green lawns. Some of the chemicals that used to be sprayed so freely to control weeds and insect pests have now been banned. But the dandelions do not seem to be encroaching too badly… yet.

My family has always refused to spray. Wasp nests and tent caterpillar nests can be knocked down and burned… and we use bug repellent when the black flies or mosquitoes interfere with work in the garden. Citronella candles work well enough for sitting out after dusk. But my family has always tried not to poison the plants or the insects.

This wall hanging is my celebration of spring. The Hamilton Quilters’ Guild issued a challenge to make a small quilt of what we could see from a window. This is the first I made… I’ll post the second another time. When I looked out that morning, the lawn, as yet uncut after the new growth, was sparkling with dew, and dandelions were everywhere.

My quilt combines many techniques. The sun was strip pieced in random widths; then wedges were cut individually and moved in and out until they finally formed a circle, and that determined the size of the quilt. The dandelions and leaves were cut as wedges from carefully aligned layers in order to achieve radial symmetry in the disks. The seed heads were done using a silk ribbon embroidery technique called spider web roses, but using fuzzy knitting yarn. Then it was beaded to create the dewdrops.

Dandelions was a delight to make, and several people have wanted to buy it, but it is not for sale. It reminds me of defiant resilience, of authenticity, of an annual challenge to urban perfectionism and the preposterous attempts we make to manipulate and control all aspects of our environment. These persistent wild flowers seem to shout, “We’re here, we’re strong and beautiful and we’re very, very, fertile. We’re not going away, so deal with it.”

Yes, but… we also dig them up when they intrude in the flower beds. This spring my son pulled up an unbroken tap-root 21 inches long! It is pinned on my design wall, looking like a long tail from some mutant sci-fi rat.

We do use some insect poison. Ants are unwelcome in the kitchen. And Motley takes a treatment that prevents fleas. The poison is in the dog’s blood, and the fleas are killed if they bite. Horrifying, isn’t it? But I can’t think of even one reason to be sympathetic towards fleas. They can be blamed for more agony and destruction than any other creature except the rodents that carry them. Protecting our little dog from the misery and illness they can inflict will never endanger that species!

Dandelions are a different matter all together! Embrace them!

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2 Responses to Dandelions

  1. Wow! I just started quilting and I can’t even wrap my brain around how you would do this. Amazing!

    • motleydragon says:

      I love their sunny brightness just as the lawn starts to become green again after winter. It is one of my favourite quilts… but don’t feel intimidated. It is only 24 inches square. Good luck with your new endeavours. And do join a guild if there is one nearby… you will meet the nicest people you can imagine!

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