Bloom wherever you grow, Dandelion! A different take on a familiar story.
Bloom Where You’re Planted was one of my most popular blogs in 2020. In it, I shared the misconception I had about some Azaleas planted in my front flower bed. For several years, my Azaleas never bloomed or fit into the March and April landscape with the rest of City of Augusta, GA (known nationally for the beauty of this flower).
One June day, just when I was preparing to dig up the Azaleas and plant something new, I came home to find my Azaleas in bloom. What I learned was I had a slightly different species of Azalea from what was most popular around the city. Mine were a white bloom that produced in the summer versus the spring.
I was expecting my bloom to be like everyone else’s, but my plant wasn’t even the same. Had I continued to look at everyone else’s bloom and take on their expectation, I would have completely missed out on the beauty and timing that was there for me to behold…in its own season.
“Bloom where you’re planted” not only became a lesson in gardening for me…but in life.
The saying, “bloom where you’re planted,” and the lesson associated with it, continue to hold true. So, with this blog, I wanted to somewhat revisit the topic, but this time from the uniqueness of another flower – the DANDELION, which doesn’t actually “bloom where it’s planted,”…but rather, wherever it grows.
As a child, in the late 1970s, I distinctly recall a young lady by the name of Selita Helm. Selita was so beautiful. I remember her not only being very pretty, but also fun; and I believe I can probably throw in talented too. Someone in her family was a seamstress I believe, and my mother and I would visit them from time to time.
I was incredibly young, like between 3-5 years old, so I can’t recall all the details. But what I do remember is that every time Selita saw me she would give me a big smile and say, “Heeeeeeeyyy, Dandelion!” Without fail. Even as I grew older and she would come into town (because she eventually moved away), she would see my mom and I and would say, “Hey Lynda! Is that DANDELION?! Dandelion, you’ve gotten so big!”
To this day, if I saw Ms. Selita, I know she would greet me with a “Heeeeeyyyyy Dandelion!”
I’m sure she knew my name; as my mom frequently dressed me in tees with my name on the back, but for whatever reason, Selita Helm had endearingly given me the name…Dandelion. That was fine with me. Dandelions were beautiful, and they eventually turned into the puff ball thingies. What child didn’t like dandelions?
Dandelion had become one of my nicknames…and I liked it. At least I liked it up until one day I read, or someone said, that dandelions were not actually flowers but WEEDS?
Dandelions are weeds?
What?! You mean all this time Ms. Selita was calling me a weed? I thought it was a compliment all this time, but was she actually saying I was an annoyance? This couldn’t be the case. Could it?
For some years, I remembered being called a dandelion, but I wasn’t sure how I felt about it anymore.
My husband is the neighborhood lawn guy. He’s the one who causes the male-adult-peer-pressure to begin. You know, the first one on the street to mow the lawn and have the greenest grass; which somehow silently influences the rest of the men on the street to get in line and do the same. LOL! It’s amazing how that’s a thing, isn’t it?
As weird as it sounds, my husband reads about lawns, watches YouTube videos about lawns, and apparently is apart of some lawn club. Who does that?! Anyway, I recall him once being very intent on trying to keep the dandelions from returning to our front lawn. Each year without fail, a few always appear on the grass’s edge closest to the front entrance of our home. As if to say, “Oh, we’re not going to just show up and be discreet. We want you to see us.”
Yes! They were real bold and disrespectful. LOL!
During his “kill the dandelions pursuit,” I mentioned to my husband that a woman back home used to call me Dandelion. To which he said, “Oh yeah! Why would she call you that?” I told him I thought it was because a dandelion was a pretty flower. His response. “Well at the Green House, the dandelion is a weed, and it’s GOTTA go.”
A Different Story Revealed
After the conversation with my husband, so much for the “pretty flower” notion. My once pleasant inference of me and the dandelion was tainted forever.
UNTIL…my daughter, during one of her Learn-from-Home Reading lessons was given an informative passage on the attributes of a dandelion that reframed and restored my attitude toward the plant. I’ve been wanting to share this for a while, because I found it quite fascinating.
I think you too will find the facts about dandelions not only interesting but also encouraging. There seems to be a bit of a dandelion in all of us.
The Dandelion Redeemed
History of the Dandelion
When the dandelion was first discovered, it was identified by its leaf’s resemblance to a certain species’ teeth and was called by the French phrase “dents de lion” meaning lion’s tooth. Eventually, people just began to say “dandelion,” which it is still commonly known as today; but the history of the origin remains the same.
I thought the history of how the dandelion got its name was interesting, since it seems it would have been more practical to identify the plant by its beautiful yellow flower rather than what was around it. However, this is true in life. Sometimes no matter the characteristics we possess on our own, some will only ever see and acknowledge the things around us that seem to somehow lesson our authentic uniqueness and beauty. Not realizing that too adds to the fabric of who we are.
Pop up and Grow
Contrary to what is now popular belief, the dandelion is actually not a weed at all. It is a flower. It was categorized as a weed because of its tendency to pop up anywhere without being planted.
Surprisingly, a dandelion is actually considered one of the most successful plant species, as they can exist worldwide in a variance of conditions, soils, temperatures, and environments. Wow! This is very similar to so many strong and resilient women I know, whose growth, abilities, and perseverance allow them to thrive just about anywhere.
Dandelions, like the weeds they are often compared to, are fast growers. However, despite how quickly they may sprout up, they can live long lives, and can even grow and survive in barren environments. This comparison is for the sister who was able to still thrive and overcome, and have some semblance of success, despite humble beginnings or the desolate environment she may have grown up in. In other words, like the dandelion, she doesn’t look like what she’s been through or what she came out of.
It seems obvious to me now that a dandelion was miscategorized as a weed. We should have known it wasn’t true. Most weeds’ roots are very short and barely scrape the surface of the ground where they are found. That’s why they are so easy to pluck up. This is not the case with the dandelion. One of the reasons dandelions are so hard to kill or get rid of is because their roots run deep; so, naturally they are to thrive well and long just where they are.
The dandelions roots commonly grow anywhere from 6-18 inches deep, but some can even permeate ground surfaces down to 10 FEET or more. Imagine the struggle a gardener would have with a root that long? But doesn’t that point too have human semblance?
“People think they just see small, dainty, and seemingly insignificant or seemingly easy to pluck up, but when they try to pull us from our position…where we’ve been planted…our roots run deeper than what was expected.”
The deep roots of a dandelion are also beneficial to the soil around it. Those deep roots are able to loosen the hardened soil around it to create natural aeration. Because they are so deep, the dandelions roots pull good nutrients deep within the soil to help other plants. Therefore, dandelions actually fertilize the grass and help it to grow. That’s probably why, once a dandelion is removed, the grass that was around it needs so much extra work to regain its likeness to the other grass. So, the next time you think the grass is greener on the other side, it might be cause to thank a dandelion.
Comparatively to the dandelion, a strong well-rooted woman’s presence (though subtle) benefits those surrounding her to help make them better, though they may despise her very presence.
Though loathed by lawn keepers today, apparently years ago lawn keepers used to weed out the grass to make room for the dandelions; and lawns were admired and celebrated the plusher their dandelions appeared. Goes to show you how trends can shift mindsets to the point that something once considered vibrant and multifaceted can be replaced by something simple and one dimensional. Yet here we are.
Similarly, don’t be discouraged if others are unappreciative of all the layers you offer or the position you’re in. Even if they try to pluck you up, sooner or later, just like the dandelion you’ll reappear; and it’ll be impossible to ignore that you’re there. They may still want to destroy you; but remember, your roots run deep.
Reinforce, Regenerate, Recreate
Additionally, there are three other attributes of the dandelion which support their longevity that could provide human lessons- their ability to REINFORCE, REGENERATE AND RECREATE.
If you have ever observed the dandelion, you’ll notice there is a wide base of leaves on the ground with one SINGLE stem with the flower attached. Both the wide base and the long stem serve purposes. The wide base of leaves not only serves to anchor the deep root beneath the surface, but these leaves are also the dandelions way of making room for itself in order to not be choked or smothered by other weeds or flowers vying for space.
I know there are times where there is a tendency to have people around, so we won’t feel alone; but sometimes, we (like the dandelion) need to create space and make room for us to grow as individuals. If not, even unintentionally, others can smother or choke out who or what we were expected to be – even those closest to us.
Interestingly, dandelions don’t require outside pollination from birds or insects for their fertilization. They have within them what they need to self-pollinate. This concept is very similar to my previous references to the seed in other blog posts. The seed has inside of it what it needs to be the fruit. It just has to develop its roots first. The same is true for us.
Don’t mistake me. I’m not saying a woman can impregnate herself. I’m saying, the gifts and uniquenesses that a woman will birth into the universe don’t have to be developed or validated by someone else. If she allows herself to complete the maturation process and stay well rooted, she can become who she was intended to be.
Have you ever noticed sometimes there will be that one dandelion that has a ridiculously long stem far above the base leaves or any other neighboring dandelions? Turns out, as the dandelion prepares to turn into the infamous puff many of us made wishes on as children, the stem grows taller than the rest of the plant to posture itself high enough so the wind can blow it’s seed further.
This attribute really resonated with me.
Prior to my transition from my previous job, it would have seemed as though my positioning was high above my base. Though my transition from that position to where I found myself seemed like a fall, could it have been me being postured so that the seeds in me could be spread further? I’d like to think so.
It’s Gonna Grow Again
The other part of the dispersing of the seed that is noteworthy is… though the puff appears to fade into the wind as its seeds go miles away to produce other dandelions (in conditions that may not necessarily be comparable to the one the seed came from), the root remains in place.
In other words, IT’S GONNA GROW AGAIN IN THE NEXT SEASON; but the evidence of the fruit that came from it will be multiplied.
Just Be the Dandy Lion
Of all that I learned about the dandelion, I still think the most notable attribute goes back to its comparison to the King of the Jungle. In thinking about it, a lion doesn’t actually have to roar to claim its place in the jungle. Just based on the lion’s presence alone…the rest of the creatures know who they are. The same is true for the dandelion and some of the strong and resilient women I know. There is no need to roar, Sis. They see you…and will adjust accordingly. Your place in the jungle has already been established.
After reading this, I hope you never look at dandelions the same. I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to them being the overall landscape of anyone’s lawn, but at least when you see them, you’ll give them their due respect and acknowledge their presence. Likewise, when you look at yourself in the mirror and recall all that you possess – from your deep roots; to the anchor that holds you together; to the beauty of all that blooms from you; and how you’ve stretched and risen to many occasions in order to survive, grow, or reinvent yourself. When you think of all that…say to yourself…HEEEEEYYYYY DANDELION!”
Don’t always expect to be planted per se. But wherever you are…JUST BLOOM!
Thanks, Ms. Selita, for the lesson you didn’t realize you would teach me. Dandelion, is still growing it seems.
Thank you for taking the time to read the thoughts from my heart and sharing in my experiences. Don’t forget to SHARE and COMMENT.
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I’ll see you on the horizon! ~Dawn☀
Have you heard the good news?! The blog you just read inspired what is now an award-winning children’s book HEEEYY DANDELION! Heeeyyy Dandelion is a beautifully illustrated story; which gently addresses childhood self-esteem, honesty, and belonging (through the lens of adoption). Grab the storybook, journal, and coloring, along with the new addition, Heeeyy Dandelion, MIND YOUR MANNERS. Buy separately, as bundles, or get the entire collection.