HORT travels

Exploring the horticultural beauty in every adventure.




Honey bee on Dandelion

A honey bee forages for nectar in a dandelion while gathering pollen.

A man told me a story about his friend, a new homeowner with a yard for the first time. He said his friend called him to ask some help with lawn maintenance. He asked about the yellow flowers popping up throughout the grass. They are dandelions the man told his friend.  They chatted about options and pros and cons of not doing anything about them at all. The following week, his friend called again. He tells the man he didn’t do anything and all of the yellow flowers disappeared! But now he says there are white puffball plants all over the place!

I am not sure this isn’t an urban legend being repeated to me, but it is a good story and not completely implausible.

This got me thinking about transformation. In a past post I explored transition, the process of changing, but here I am thinking about the actual change.

Dandelion Seed Head

The familiar seed head of the dandelion.

“For tomorrow’s class you will have to bring a symbol of your culture and your spirituality” instructs my professor in my first doctorate level course – Spirituality and Culture in Adult Education.  Completely at a loss for anything that symbolizes an upbringing with no formalized religion and no specific traditions relating to my cultural heritage I was frantic. What in the world could I bring to class for this show and tell? It was suggested to me that perhaps a dandelion could be my symbol.

Dandelion in the Lawn

A bright yellow dandelion in a sea of green.

Since I can remember I have always enjoyed these little dots of sunshine in great green expanse of lawns. I think part of the appeal to me is that they seem so defiant. Obviously out of place and not trying to blend in at all but sticking their bright yellow heads up high and proudly. I identify with that. I have 5 framed photos of the various stages of a dandelion’s transformation on the wall in my office. Since I began my career teaching anyone who would listen about the wonder of plants, I have emphasized that even a dandelion growing in a crack in the sidewalk is valuable and ‘nature’. This would be my symbol. The lowly ‘weed’, the dandelion.

Fly gathering nectar and pollen from a dandelion

A Bee Fly gathers nectar (see the tongue?!) from a dandelion.

When I had the opportunity to share my symbol, I explained how the dandelion represents my need to question behaviors and beliefs, to provide alternate information people may not have considered before making decisions. Things like the dandelion provides early season nectar for pollinators when not much else is blooming.  So keeping them around helps support the bees that are in peril around the globe. That dandelions were brought here in the first place as food and medicine. They could cure and nourish and now we are killing them by the billions with chemicals to preserve a lawn that will do neither of these things in a time when so many are sick and so many are hungry. So this symbol of dichotomy and human/plant relationships is the representation of the culture and spirituality I have developed over my lifetime. The dandelion is my spirit flower.

Organic Dandelion greens on display at whole foods market

Organic dandelion greens on display at Whole Foods Market

Many people correlate transformation to the complete metamorphosis of the caterpillar into a butterfly. Though this is amazing and beautiful in its own way, the caterpillar cannot go back to being a caterpillar, it will always be a butterfly. The dandelion transforms over and over again, exposing its different forms at different times for different circumstances and that sounds like my life to me.

Dandelion Stems

Some dandelion stems are nearly the color of rhubarb and provide excellent nutrition.

Personally, I feel the value of a dandelion goes beyond pollinator support and nutrition and healing. It is a symbol for life itself. It is a living reminder that though we may change, and feel we have changed completely and totally for the better, we have not lost who we were before. That it is okay to go back and forth between who you once were and who you are now and explore everything in between. That change is good and necessary and a reflection of the times and who you are now will not be permanent.  Most importantly the dandelion is a reminder that change is beautiful.


Better change photo.jpg


7 thoughts on “Transformation

  1. Pingback: New To Me | HORT travels

  2. Pingback: Back on the Trail | HORT travels

  3. Pingback: Change Along the Perkiomen Trail | HORT travels

  4. My welcome post has a poem in it you might like. Shares my views on manicured lawns and my love of dandelions. I only have two posts, easy to find lol.

  5. When we were little kids, we saw a rock across the road that seemed to be getting closer. A bit later, we noticed that it really was a bit closer. We watched it, and noticed that it was moving toward us. We hid behind a hedge and watched in horror as it slowly came onto our front lawn and ate the dandelions! When it ran out of dandelions, it went around back and at the dandelions there! It was horrifying! The rock lived with us for many years, grooming the lawn and eating table scraps. It was a tortoise.

Share your thoughts.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s