Lesser Loved Legends

It’s lion season again – Dandelion that is. Check out the story about my mother taking me ‘lion hunting’ here.

I love dandelions – I love how they brighten up an abandoned corner of the yard, or how they sprinkle sunshine through a lawn that is left to lengthen at this time of the year.

I love how they feed bees, and if needed, how they would also feed humans. I won’t repeat all the great things they do, but instead, invite you to read the post I’ve already written about how fabulous they are.

And how clever they are at packing and unpacking all those luscious petals away every night without needing an iron!

If gardens had under-appreciated superheroes then dandelions would be one of them. This post is to highlight a couple more such plants – think of it as a flora version of Marvel’s Avengers with dandelions as Captain America!

Nettles are a much-maligned member of the superhero garden set, understandable given the stinging nature of them but beneath that barbed exterior is lots of yummy food favoured by caterpillars – which become beautiful butterflies. And they are the number one food source for ladybirds too. (in this picture the ladybird is on a strawberry leaf, not a nettle – you take the pictures where you can get them!)

Nettles can be eaten by humans too, and are a rich source of vitamins and minerals with a variety of health benefits including curing hayfever and reducing inflammation. As well as all that, nettles can help feed other plants – this Gardener’s World article tells you all about it.

Ivy is native to Ireland. The berries are toxic to humans but they are a food source for birds, fruiting during the winter when there is little else around. Ivy flowers also provide nectar to many butterflies and bees love the flowers too. I know I’ve often heard my ivy buzzing and this explains why.

Contrary to popular belief, ivy does not kill trees. And it may even protect the buildings it grows over. It provides a home for many wildlife species of birds and mammals – I’m convinced my robins are nesting in the ivy.

Ivy is attractive here, growing in a community of hedgerow species. When I lived in California, I pulled all the ivy out of our yard to put in my California native plant garden. In that instance, ivy was an invasive species. Conversely, I welcome it in Ireland. For more information on why read this article by the Woodland Trust.

A happy little trio of garden superheroes working together undercover to support the local wildlife – notice the holes the leaves – this means that someone has not gone hungry!

And finally, I will sing the praises of the humble lawn daisy because of its simple beauty. You can understand why it is the symbol of innocence and purity.

Apparently, you can eat it, and I have chewed on the stems while making daisy chains without getting poisoned. There’s more information here about the medicinal benefits of daisies (useful if the pharmacy is closed I suppose!)

Sometimes all you need to do to see something in a surprising new way is to look at it from a different angle or up close. This morning I was well rewarded when I sneaked up on this sleeping daisy. the delicate pink tips are just so beautiful.

When I mow the lawn I can’t bear to cut these little flowers down and often mow around them. I’ll never have the perfectly manicured lawn but I don’t mind. The bees are happy in my lawn with its mix of dandelions, daisy and clover and if it looks green enough from a distance, it works for me.

The best thing about these four lesser loved legends is that they quietly exist around us, supporting wildlife, being pretty (yes, even nettles – the shapes/angles of those leaves…wow) and if you take a moment from your day to look closely, I’ll bet you’ll easily find one of them waiting to be discovered not too far away.

Byddi Lee