The dandelion is often considered a weed. But in reality it is a plant with many healing properties in the medicinal field. Practically all its parts can be used because they all have a multitude of therapeutic qualities (both the flowers and the root and leaves). In fact, its scientific name, taraxacum officinale, derives from the Greek words “taraxos” meaning “disease” and “akos” meaning “remedy“.
This plant is also appreciated in the world of gastronomy for all the vitamins and minerals it contains. It can therefore be added to soups, wines, salads and infusions. In many places, its roasted root is even used as a coffee substitute.
The dandelion is a herbaceous perennial plant that can grow to a height of approximately 20 to 50 centimetres. When it flowers, its petals have a beautiful yellow colour. In fact, its common name comes from the shape of these petals, which resemble the pointed teeth of the king of the jungle.
When the flower fades and the petals fall off, the plant then transforms into its fruit: It becomes a fluffy white soft sphere with hundreds of Lilliputian parachute-like strands attached to the stem (which is also where the plant’s seeds are found). Such a brutal change can happen in less than 24 hours, overnight. It is another example of the magic of nature.
In 2018, researchers at the University of Edinburgh discovered that the shape of these mini-parachutes makes the dandelion one of the best flyers in the plant world in terms of distance. With the help of the wind, these white strands can float for very long distances, often up to a kilometre or more. When they fly, air moves through their bristles and at the same time a ring-shaped air bubble forms around them, which helps to improve the quality of their flight and slows their fall to the ground. These mini parachutes float so well that they are up to four times more efficient than the parachutes we humans use. It sounds like science fiction, yes, and it’s wonderful.
After studying the characteristics and properties of the dandelion I was fascinated. So much so that this plant opened up new possibilities for me to design hair headdresses using the same plant at different times of its life: I first designed hair headdresses with the plant with seeds and then I designed hair headdresses with the plant without seeds.
With the seeded plant I designed a multiple headdress. Eight white dandelion balls floating above the head like big snowflakes, like little alien ships. I harvested the plants one morning in early August 2020 in Rotterdam (The Netherlands). Before working with them I treated them for weeks to strengthen their overall structure. Dandelion seeds really are so aerodynamic that it is almost impossible to move them without them falling apart. Especially when you are in Holland, a country without any mountains, so you will almost always have wind.
So, for a month I patiently hung them upside down and sprayed them with a light mist of fixing lacquer, arranging them in the best position to keep them intact. The fluffy white globes patiently received their treatment: always at a safe distance, as gently as possible and avoiding any sudden movements. Used to working at a much faster pace, designing so slowly was a way out of my comfort zone and a learning experience in itself. After a month I was finally able to assemble the design. The stems retained some greenness but were now stiff enough to remain straight and the balls were consistent enough not to fall apart when moved.
Wearing these pieces on my head I felt a deep respect for this plant. The round white spheres, almost perfect, as a gift from the goddesses.
With the dandelions I designed two more pieces, this time without seeds. But to discover them you will have to wait patiently for the next blog post, next week.
This piece is not available for sale, it was a unique model, but I can offer you a personalised floral design to your liking. Just contact me.
If you are interested in knowing more about the creative process in floral design, you can read more here . And if you want to discover the benefits of floral design and put them into practice with a personalised workshop, you can find out more here.
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