Introduction | Exhibit Homepage | Credits

Above: W. S. Holdsworth, “Dandelion” and “Floret of Dandelion,” in L. H. Bailey, Lessons with Plants (1906), figs. 169 and 170, and also in LHBGC, p. 172. Below: W. S. Holdsworth, “The Dandelion,” in L. H. Bailey, Lessons with Plants (1906), fig. 171, and also in LHBGC, p. 174.

“The man who worries morning and night about the dandelions in the lawn will find great relief in loving the dandelions. Each blossom is worth more than a gold coin, as it shimmers in the exuberant sunlight of the growing spring, and attracts the bees to its bosom. Little children love the dandelions: why may not we? Love the things nearest at hand; and love intensely.” –LHBGC, pp. 13-4

As the “father of modern horticulture,” Bailey spent a good deal of energy defending the idea that horticultural plants (the products of farm and garden) were just as worthy of botanical study as were “wild” plants—at the time, a controversial idea. He went further, though, asserting that no plant is too homely or ordinary to inspire scientific inquiry or horticultural affection. But, if the botanist should study the things of the garden, so too should the gardener find room in her heart for the… wilder visitors to her garden. He often used the example of the dandelion in his nature-study writings, as something common but also fascinating, and he exhorted the gardener to embrace the dandelion for its beauty. He even challenged our concept of what counts as a weed: “The statement attributed to Emerson, that a weed is a plant out of place, has been much quoted; but it is a question whether a plant is ever out of place except when cultivated” (LHBGC, p. 90).

See Bailey’s horticultural entries on the dandelion in:

The famous photograph pictured on the cover of Liberty Hyde Bailey: Essential Agrarian and Environmental Writings, edited by Zachary Michael Jack, depicts Bailey beside the lodge at Bailiwick, surrounded by dandelions in the lawn.

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