HELEN LANG: I want to see a dandilion in full bloom

Today I’m entering a pathetic request. I want to see a dandelion in full bloom.

Oh, I know we are supposed to hate them and a healthy large one in the centre of a perfect green lawn is a bit of an unwelcome sight, but surely in a back lane we could find a nice big fat one or two, but so far, no such luck.

To me they are the first real sign of a returning warm season. Soon the wild flowers will burst into bloom, the Easter lilies (erithronium), the trillium, the wild yellow violets, the dog wood trees. Where are they this year? The ornamental blooming trees are doing their “thing” and look delightful along the boulevards in Sidney. They were planted years ago by a clever and far-sighted city gardener who knew they would be loved by everyone each spring and provide nesting sites for the returning robins, who probably smile to themselves as they drop a teaspoon of fresh offal on some woman’s new Easter bonnet (it was an accident of course — or did I see a sort of smirk on that bird’s face and a delighted twinkle in his shining black eyes?).

It’s time to review our seeds from last year; whether they are still viable will depend largely on how carefully you have stored them since last spring.

It’s a good idea to test a few of them by sprinkling them on a piece of damp paper towelling. If, in a week, none of them has put out a slender white root, forget it and buy a new supply. Larger seeds (peas, squash, beans, corn, etc.) will almost certainly be OK, but small ones (carrots, turnips, lettuce) – it’s safer to replace them if there is any doubt, instead of waiting and waiting for something hopeful to appear.

Throw caution to the wind and buy fresh seed and don’t wait for tomorrow. Just go out and re-plant those carrots! Maybe you should choose a new area when you re-seed or you could end up with several sacks of unnecessary legumes! Or you could start a market garden at the end of the driveway. This might result in an ugly scene when the regular car driver files for divorce!

Let’s just forget that plan. I don’t know about you, but I do hate a row.

Helen Lang has been the Peninsula News Review’s garden columnist for more than 30 years.

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