Author Pete Crawford
Head of People and Wildlife
Whilst considering your garden after the ravages of winter, you may see the odd gap, space for a bit of spring colour. Can I draw you attention to what I think is a must have plant?
A real herald of spring, its bright yellow flowers are already opening. But in contrast to the ubiquitous daffodil trumpets, each bloom is actually composed of dozens of tiny florets, arranged in a flat whorl, attractive to pollinating insects, including bumblebees, butterflies and pollen beetles.
Each plant will throw up many flowers, each on a short, leafless stem, which does not flop or bend in spring winds. Careful deadheading can prolong the flowering season further. These marvellous plants generally flower in spring and early summer, but have been known to bloom at almost any time of the year.
They are the hardiest of perennials, and will thrive in most conditions. Their neat rosette of leaves takes up little space at the front of the border and they can naturalise in lawns or a meadow successfully.
You can even add the young leaves and petals to a salad. Traditionally the flowers were used to make a wine and its renowned diuretic properties are reflected in various colloquial names - 'wet the bed' being the most polite.
However this horticultural wonder is not readily available in garden centres, perhaps due in part to the oversight of Alan Titchmarsh et al.
Perhaps Sussex Wildlife Trust members can help promote this unfairly ignored garden plant, which has so much to offer. May I offer you the splendid Taraxacum officinale, although you may know it by its common name - the dandelion!
If you already have specimens in your garden, why not look closely at the beauty of the flower, cherish their hardiness and allow them to flower to benefit the bees, before deadheading?