On Dandelions and Sin

DandelionI guess I’d better start with a public declaration that I think dandelions are beautiful: fuzzy yellow suns, milky seed-puff moons… I’ll stop there, because I can’t think of anything nice to say about the bald caps and spiky fronds after the seeds have blown.

Those so inclined can eat dandelion greens, and apparently the roots when roasted and ground make a passable substitute for coffee.

In a field, dandelions are so pretty.

Too bad they don’t work so well in residential lawns. When mine grow, I always feel guilty about infecting my neighbours’ properties, like I’m harbouring an invasion force.

We have one of those long, green tools that lets you stand mostly upright and uproot the pesky plants one root at a time. I’ve tried it a few previous springs and given up, but this year I’ve bagged a few buckets-full of dandelions nearly every day.

A field of dandelions

My back yard, two years ago

I have no particular hope of eradicating all the dandelions that have encroached on our lawn over the past 20+ years, but there’s something about this daily activity that soothes me. And it’s an excuse for fresh air.

It’s also an excuse for a blog post.

I don’t think much while I’m on the daily hunt. Sometimes I count the harvest, sometimes I pray, sometimes I talk to the stubborn ones. Listeners would most likely hear me mutter “I can’t get you all, but I can get you.

My mantra has become “None to seed.” When I’m out of time and there are still plants un-dug, I pick off the dandelion heads.

After a couple weeks of the daily battle, I got thinking how dandelions are a bit like sin. Not necessarily the “evil action” kind of sin where we know we’re doing something wrong and choose to do it anyway, but the “missed God’s best for us” kind where we’ve gotten trapped in patterns of negative thinking, reactions or other behaviour that have really messed us up.

Some observations:

  • younger plants are easier to uproot than those that have grown for years
  • they produce fewer blossoms too
  • one blossom is enough to produce 40 to 100+ seeds (Source: howitworksdaily.com)
  • mature plants spread broad leaves and kill the grass near them
  • the roots go down a long way and are more likely to break than to come out cleanly
  • some plants require multiple grabs with the extractor
  • they’re sneaky: they’ll twist their stalks so the blossoms look like they come from somewhere other than the actual root
  • they’ll lie down until the mower is put away, then stand up defiant and straight
  • the plants will slip off my tool en route to the bucket
  • the blossoms will break off and fall out of the bucket, often face-down, to hide until they can turn into seeds
  • yellow blossoms will go to seed once they’ve opened, so don’t compost them
  • pulling them out leaves holes in the ground, and if there’s a big patch it’s unsightly
  • bald patches must be re-seeded with grass or more dandelions or other weeds will return (remember Jesus’ warning about the evil spirit and the clean house in Luke 11:24-26)
  • the worse the infestation (usually the longer it’s been growing) the longer it takes to fix
  • looking at the scope of the problem leads to discouragement and defeat
  • a little work each day will bring results
  • picking the heads off (=cheating or at least a short-cut) is better than letting them bloom and spread their seeds
  • they’re heavy – putting too many in my organics bin for pickup will make it too heavy for the workers

Dandelion season has passed its peak, and I think I’ll make it with none to seed. Yes, I may celebrate by baking my family a cake.

Janet Sketchley holding uprooted dandelion

Got this one, root and all!

10 thoughts on “On Dandelions and Sin

  1. Mary Waind

    A+++ post, Janet! Love it! I have never even tried to make sure none went to seed. Sometimes there would be goldfinches on the lawn and if they didn’t move we couldn’t tell them from the dandelions. Mom thought the dandelions were pretty, so no pressure to get rid of them 🙂

    1. Janet Sketchley

      I love to watch the little goldfinches, Mary. Haven’t seen many at the feeder this spring. They don’t stay still for very long, do they? But they always make me smile. I remember a difficult day at work when one perched briefly in a tree outside our office window. He didn’t stay long or come back, and I think God let me see him there to remind me that He saw me and cared.

  2. Janis Cox


    We have given up with fighting the dandelions – we enjoy them while they are here. Mow them down, watch them recover and mow again. Soon they will be gone anyway. At least I know it is finally spring although it feels fall.

    I guess if I were comparing to sin – I would be ignoring it. Not good. But if it is just dandelions – oh well. They are pretty.

    Janis http://www.janiscox.com

    1. Janet Sketchley

      Enjoy your dandelions, Janis, and I hope things warm up for you soon. So weird for it to be so cold!

      And this is the downfall of the dandelion/sin analogy: sin is sin, because there’s only one God to define it. Dandelions are either a delight or a bane, because we make that decision ourselves. I think you’ve made the wiser choice, but I’ve enjoyed my outdoors times.

  3. ginnyjaques

    I think many things in gardening would make good analogies for life. Most significant of your list of comments for me are “looking at the scope of the problem leads to discouragement and defeat” and “a little work each day will bring results”. Not happy about the first, but comforted by the last. And it’s nice to remember that heaven will be weed-free. Thanks for the light-hearted but insightful post.

    1. Janet Sketchley

      Ginny, I’m trying to apply that “little bit at a time” approach to a lot of areas of life. If I can let God handle watching the big picture, and just focus on what He gives me here and now, and do that bit in His strength, I’ll be healthier and happier. And hopefully it’ll help me get some fiction writing done! That’s another thing that has to have regular attention.

  4. Margaret

    Wow! You saw so “awfully” many similarities between dandelions and sins! That, in and of itself, is something to think about. Our sins can seem so unassuming, pretty, innocent, and harmless — just like our lovely dandelions. Besides dandelions, my worst garden weed is what we call “Creeping Jenny”. Some call it “Field Bindweed”. One should plant fields of it and turn it into a wonderful perfume. It smells that good. But, it cannot be trusted to stay in place and plants itself with seeds and underground runners that create seemingly new plants all over the place, choking out and smothering the plants one loves.

    I’m off to the garden to make another attack. It’s an all-summer job wherein one has to be very diligent.

    Thank you for so many good, thought-provoking posts.


    1. Janet Sketchley

      Oh my, Margaret, I just looked up Field Bindweed and it sounds formidable indeed. It would make a pretty field, but it would sure choke out whatever crops a person wanted to grow. Sounds ideal for the big hill in my backyard, but my neighbours wouldn’t appreciate its invasion, I’m sure.

      As you say, diligence and persistence will make a difference. Thanks for your comment!

  5. Shirley Freeman

    I am thankful for your thoughts on dandelions. A good read with much to think about. Thanks.


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