Dandelions: More than Just A Weed

Few plants are as ubiquitous as the dandelion. Found in every continent except Antarctica, this hardy little plant has long been a source of food and medicine. In recent years, however, the dandelion has been buffeted by changing attitudes. Once considered a weed, it is now viewed as a valuable resource, with a potential to revolutionize the food and beverage industry. So pull up a chair and pour yourself a cup of dandelion tea – it’s time to learn more about this fascinating plant.

Yellow Dandelions

What are Dandelions and What Do They Look Like?

Dandelions are flowering plants in the Asteraceae family. They are native to Europe, Asia, and North America, and they have been introduced to many other parts of the world. The most distinctive feature of dandelions is their bright yellow flowers. The flowers are surrounded by a ring of green sepals, and they are followed by round, fluffy seed heads. Dandelions are very hardy plants, and they can often be found growing in lawns, meadows, and wastelands. When the seed heads mature, they detach from the plant and float away on the wind, spreading the dandelion’s pollen far and wide.

What are the Benefits of Dandelions?

While most people consider dandelions to be nothing more than pesky weeds, they actually have a number of benefits. For one, they are a source of food for a variety of animals, including bees, butterflies, and birds. Dandelions can also be used to make a variety of herbal remedies for humans. They are packed with nutrients, including vitamins A, B, C, and K, as well as iron and calcium. In addition, dandelions have been used medicinally for centuries to treat liver and digestive problems. Today, dandelion root is even being studied as a potential treatment for cancer.

One of the most important benefits of dandelions is that they help to replenish the soil with nutrients. Dandelions have a deep taproot that helps to break up compacted soil, and their leaves are rich in nitrogen and other minerals. As the dandelions go to seed, they also deposit a large amount of pollen, which is an important food source for bees and other pollinators. Additionally, dandelions are one of the first flowers to bloom in the spring, providing an early source of nectar for hungry bees. In this way, dandelions play an important role in supporting a healthy ecosystem.

Bee Feeding on Dandelion Nectar

So the next time you come across a dandelion in your yard, take a moment to appreciate its many benefits.

How to Harvest and Use Dandelions

Dandelions are one of the most common “weeds” in North America, but they can also be a valuable herbal remedy. The entire plant is edible, and dandelion leaves can be used to add a bit of bitterness to salads or cooked greens. Dandelion flowers can be used to make a variety of beverages, like coffee, tea, and even wine. The flower heads can be fermented with sugar and water to produce a sweet, slightly sparkling wine. The roots can be roasted and ground into a coffee substitute. In addition, dandelion extract is often used as a natural diuretic and liver tonic.

Dandelion Tea

To harvest dandelions, simply pull up the entire plant, roots and all. Rinse the dirt off the roots, then chop them into small pieces. The leaves can be eaten raw or cooked, and the flowers can be steeped in boiling water to make tea. Dandelion root can also be roasted and ground, or boiled and simmered to make a syrup. Whatever way you choose to use them, dandelions can add both flavor and nutrition to your diet.

Recipes that Include Dandelion Greens

Dandelion greens are a nutritional powerhouse, and they can be used in a variety of recipes. For example, dandelion greens can be sautéed with garlic and olive oil for a simple side dish, or they can be added to soups and stews for extra flavor and nutrition. Dandelion greens are also a healthy addition to smoothies and salads. Use them in place of spinach in recipes like lasagna or spanakopita.

When cooked, they have a similar texture to spinach or Swiss chard, and a slightly bitter taste that is similar to arugula or endive.

When shopping for dandelion greens, look for fresh, crisp leaves that are deep green in color and free from blemishes. Avoid dandelion greens that have yellowed or withered leaves, as these may indicate that the greens are past their prime, and will be tough and bitter. They can usually be found in the produce section of most grocery stores. To ensure the freshest dandelion greens possible, try to buy them from a local farmers market.

Dandelion Greens with Garlic

Check out this recipe for Dandelion Greens with Garlic

To clean the greens, simply rinse them under cold water. If the greens are particularly sandy, you may want to soak them in a bowl of water for a few minutes before cooking.

When cooking dandelion greens, it is important to not overcook them, as this will make them tough and difficult to chew. Instead, cook them for just a few minutes so that they retain their nutrient-rich properties.

With a little creativity, dandelion greens can be a delicious and healthy way to add some extra nutrition to your meals. And there are many delicious recipes that include dandelion greens, so be sure to try one today!

Dandelion Crafts

Dandelions are more than just weeds – they can also be used to make a variety of beautiful and unique crafts! While most people think of them as pesky plants that need to be removed from their yards, dandelions can actually be used to create everything from jewelry to home décor.

For example, dandelion seeds can be used to make earrings and necklaces, while the flowers can be used to make colorful headbands and bracelets, wreaths and garlands. The bright yellow petals can be used to decorate cards or scrapbooks, and the flowers can even be pressed and made into jewelry. Dandelion heads can also be dried and used to fill decorative vases or bowls.

Dandelion Headband

Dandelions can also be used to make natural dyes. The flowers can be steeped in hot water to produce a yellow dye, or the leaves can be boiled to create a green dye. These dyes can be used to color fabric, paper, or even Easter eggs.

So the next time you see a dandelion, don’t reach for the weed killer – reach for some glue and scissors instead! With a little imagination, you can turn these humble plants into one-of-a-kind works of art.

Dandelion Folklore and Mythology

The dandelion is a plant with a long history, and it has been the subject of many stories and legends over the years.

In folklore, dandelions are sometimes known as “wish flowers,” as it is said that if you blow on a dandelion puffball, your wishes will come true.

The dandelion’s name is thought to come from the French dent de lion, or “lion’s tooth”, and it was once believed that picking a dandelion would result in being bitten by a lion. A less frightening explanation is that “lion’s tooth,” is a reference to the plant’s jagged leaves.

Field of Dandelions

In other parts of Europe, the plant was associated with witches, and it was said that if you placed a dandelion under your pillow, you would dream of the witch who would cast a spell on you.

In China, meanwhile, the dandelion is considered to be a symbol of good luck, and it is often given as a gift to new mothers.

Whether considered to be lucky or unlucky, there is no doubt that the dandelion has had a fascinating impact on human culture.

In Closing

The dandelion is a plant with a long and interesting history. It has been used for food, medicine, and even crafts over the years, and it continues to be an important part of many cultures around the world. So the next time you see a dandelion, take a moment to appreciate this humble plant – you may be surprised by how much it has to offer!

Beautiful Fall Leaves

Leaves get their green color from chlorophyll, contained in cells within the leaves. Chlorophyll is necessary for photosynthesis, it captures sunlight to produce plant sugars. As days grow shorter and temperatures cool in the fall, trees stop producing chlorophyll, some earlier than others. Fall Leaves

Without chlorophyll to capture sunlight, other pigments contained in the cells of leaves become more visible. These other pigments are called accessory pigments, they include carotenoids and anthocyanins.


Carotenoids absorb blue and violet light and reflect yellow and green wavelengths, which is why they appear yellow to the human eye.

Fall Tree


Anthocyanins absorb blue and green light and reflect red wavelengths, which is why they appear red to the human eye. These accessory pigments are present in leaves all year long and some accumulate higher than others in the fall. Fall Trees at the Park

Why Are The Trees More Colorful Some Years?

The amount of sunlight and temperature conditions determine if trees will turn more colorful in the fall. Trees that grow at higher elevations or towards the poles may turn red and yellow earlier than those growing closer to the equator, which is why we see some trees with brilliant colors while others nearby are still green.

Beautiful Fall Leaves

Also, years with abundant rainfall will produce more colorful fall leaves, while dryer, or even drought conditions will cause trees to skip their brilliant color phase in the fall.

Forcing Tulips in Water

Forcing tulips in water is a fun, easy, and a unique way to present tulips that most people have not seen before.

Tulip Bulbs in Water

I think showing the natural beauty of the bulb is a pure, modern, and minimalist approach to floral design.  Tulips Growing in Water

Give it a try. Tulip Blooms in Water



Tips For Growing Hydrangea

The Hydrangea is a lovely flowering shrub that comes in several colors such as red, pink, blue and white. The blossoms are usually large and beautiful to look at. Some of the different varieties have blossoms that are a mixture of colors.


Hydrangeas are an excellent addition to any yard or garden. They produce flowers from mid-summer into the fall when many other plants have quit blooming, so they can be enjoyed for a longer period of time than most shrubs and perennials. Their beauty is complemented by their ease of care which makes them even better! Hydrangea borders look very nice along with group plantings where you want variety, but don’t need anything too large because planting space can get expensive quickly if used up on larger specimens like trees and bushes.

Hydrangea in Container

Hydrangea in a container

Hydrangea flowers can be blue, pink or purple depending on aluminum levels in the soil. Blue flowers grow in acidic soils with a pH of less than 5.5, pink ones are produced by soil that is more alkaline and has a higher pH value (greater than 5.5), whereas white flowers don’t care about the acidity levels at all!

Hydrangea bushes

Hydrangea Hydrangea is a genus of 70 species of flowering plants native to Asia and North America. The flower heads are produced in large clusters, ranging from small flowers 1 cm (0.4 inch) diameter to big chunky 8cm (3 inch). They flower in summer through fall. Hydrangeas have become popular as garden shrubs in temperate areas. They are popularly known as hydrangea bushes.

Here is an excellent article from the Farmer’s Almanac on how to plant, grow, and prune hydrangea.

Sweet Angel Vine

Angel Vine can be grown indoors or outside, as a houseplant or an outdoor plant. If you want your angel vine to thrive, it needs lots of sun. Make sure the soil is moist but well drained so that its roots stay dry and prevents rotting. Sweet Angel Vine in Pot

The parts of an Angel vine plant are extremely toxic to humans and animals, especially the seeds! It is a good idea to keep these plants up high up so curious cats, dogs, or children cannot take a bite from them. If you suspect your pet or child has ingested any part of this plant, consider it a medical emergency.

Grow Your Own Green Onions

Grow your own green onions…much faster than celery. Next time you buy green onions, save the bulb and toss it in a jar of water…you’ll have a whole new bunch in 12 days!

Grow Green Onions

To grow green onions:

  • Place the white ends in water in a sunlit window
  • After a few days green shoots will begin to appear
  • Transfer onions to a glass or jar
  • Use scissors to cut off onion greens as needed
  • Replace water as needed. 

You can keep doing this indefinitely…the onion will just regrow!

This method also works for leeks and shallots.

Green onions are healthy too, they are a good source of vitamins A and C, as well as potassium and folic acid. So not only are they delicious, they’re good for you!

Beautiful Succulent Projects

Now that I am having success with many of my succulents (thanks to their summer growth spurt!), I am in search of ways to make them really stand out in my garden.

I looked through some vacation photos of mine from about a year ago. When we were wandering some of the beach shops, we came across one shop that had a cute little ball of moss with a couple flowery looking succulents attached to the top. It was hung by a bow from the shop sign. I had never seen anything like it, and it is probably the time I first started to see succulents in a different, pretty way.

Though that photo reminded me of our family vacation, it didn’t answer an obvious question: How in the heck do you make that so the plants stay alive?!

So after a little research, I found a couple amazing tutorials to show us how to do just that!

Pine Cone Succulents
Photo Source: theinspiredhomeandgarden.com

This adorable pine cone project would make for a fun way to hang plants from patio rails, porch lights and even fence posts! I just love how the use off all natural items looks so beautiful and fresh! I wonder if a little battery operated tea light could be added to the center to make for stunning backyard party decorations?

Succulent Ball
Photo Source: Martha Stewart via www.apartmenttherapy.com

Visit this site for a VERY simple tutorial in creating this amazing ball of succulents. The concept could work for other items like wreaths, topiaries, etc.

I am very excited to try my hand at these projects – if I can get them made and growing now, they would make for some cheap, expensive-looking hand-made holiday gifts!

My New Love – Propagating Succulents

I have never been a huge cactus fan, mostly due to the crazy amounts of spikes and prickly fuzz.


However, I recently began to enjoy the beautiful blooms and flower-like shapes of the succulents at a home on my running path. The garden is full of poke-free, drought-tolerant, beautifully colored plants. They arranged in such a nice manner that the yard looks absolutely stunning. Expensive, even.

I had the opportunity to speak with the home owner, who was extremely kind and gave me a quick tutorial in succulent growth and propagation – even sent me home with a few leaves in my running shorts pockets to give it a try! I have since been hooked!

The greatest thing about succulents is the minimal amount of water they take. I currently water 2 times a week, depending on the heat. This is because most succulents grow more in the spring and summer months. In the winter, I have read that you should water just once a week, maybe even every other week as the plants go into a dormant phase during colder seasons.

I have had mostly great luck in propagating from leaves. I started with the few I was given, then got more from a couple plants I found outside a few restaurants and homes I run by. If I see the homeowner, I be sure to ask first… but if I don’t, I guess I figure they won’t mind me taking just one or two leaves, so long as I don’t damage the plant and it is large enough they won’t miss 1 leaf! Give me your opinions on this, as I don’t know the proper succulent-leaf-taking etiquette!

Propogating Succulents

Photo Source: needlesandleaves.net

To refresh my memory, I found a very simple tutorial (see image link above) that has a method I have found to work very well with most plants. I find that some leaves like more water than others (or maybe I am giving them too much sun, so the soil just dries faster?), and some that prefer to have more sand in the mixture. Visit Needles + Leaves for the great tutorial.

One type of succulent that I have yet to be able to propagate is Aloe. I have actually read many tutorials, watched many videos and am embarrassed that many people say it is the easiest to work with! I can’t believe I have tried a dozen leaves and can’t seem to get one started – the EASIEST ONE?!

I have tried so many methods, from laying pieces on top of the soil as shown by Needles + Leaves, to burying the leaf upright in the soil, no water, moist soil, dipped in honey (that idea seemed weird, but I gave it a shot…), fresh off the mother plant, allowing the end to dry/scab over, and even buying a rooting powder. Not one method has worked for me!


Propogating Aloe

Photo Source: www.wikihow.com

My next attempt will be to try this tutorial from WikiHow, partly shown above. PLEASE, if anyone has a tried and true method for Aloe, be sure to let me know by email or in the comments to share with everyone!

Just a quick shout-out to my friend, who has been kind enough to let me slice a dozen or more aloe leaves off the plants in his backyard for practicing each failed method! Thank you!

DIY Strawberry Planters

Strawberries are my favorite fruit and my favorite dessert (with cake and whipped cream, of course).


Growing them, however, can be challenging for some. They require quite a bit of space if you want them nice and plump, and if you have birds and rabbits about your yard like we do, it can be tough to keep them away. They best solution I have for scaring off the birds is Christmas tree tinsel. I like to tie it or staple a few pieces to the planter box, or tie it to some wire and poke it right into the soil. This allows it to really move in the breeze, making it seem more alive and “scary” to the birds.

As far as the space issue and rabbit issue, I like to use vertical containers. The rabbits have a harder time getting to the berries, especially if you set them up higher on blocks. Vertical containers also allow for growing more fruit in a smaller square foot area of your yard or on your deck or patio! I am a huge fan of space saving, and if you are looking to do the same, then vertical is the way to go.

How do you get started in vertical strawberry growing? Below are a few tutorials to help you build your own containers and get growing!

Strawberry Planter

Image Source: prakticideas.com

Tall Strawberry Planter

Image and Tutorial Source: removeandreplace.com

Pallet Strawberry Planter

Image and Tutorial Source: lovelygreens.com

Notice in this bottom photo that berries are growing out of each layer! It is made from pallets. Be sure to check out all of these great tutorials to see which idea best suits your garden space.