THE TROPHY IS MINE

I have suffered your rudeness long enough. I won?t put up with this blatant snub of my talents any longer. If someone grew rare wild orchids, people would comment on their ability and insist that their dedication be officially recognized.

They might even ask about their technique or invite them to do a workshop. When visitors see my yard and garden, it is blatantly obvious I display a unique talent and yet no-one says a word about it. Well, all of that stops right here and now.

I am a Master Taraxacum officinale Gardener and from now on, I expect to be recognized as such. This is the first time I have had to make use of my column in such a manner and I sincerely hope it will be the last.

I must say that I am embarrassed for the gardening community as a whole for not having the good grace and courtesy to take this measure on my behalf. The level of envy that gardeners are capable of is truly disgusting. It would seem that the bitter green emotion runs rampant in those with green thumbs.

I must add that I use the term ?green thumb? loosely. I visit a lot of gardens and the ability to successfully grow Taraxacum officinale through to full maturity seems to be a dying art. More and more I find that those who would call themselves ?gardeners? are not even capable of producing a single Taraxacum bud.

After spending over 20 years carefully mastering the fine art of raising Taraxacum officinale, I feel more than ready to proclaim my intentions to turn pro. With this long overdue proclamation, comes my formal announcement that this year I intend to grow Canada?s 2006 Grand Champion Taraxacum officinale.

Having learned in the past that it is extremely difficult to win an award if it doesn?t exist, I am also making use of this column to request that there be a Canadian Taraxacum officinale award created for the biggest and most beautiful Taraxacum officinale. Obviously, I can?t do it. It would be silly for me to create the award, buy the trophy and then be forced to present it to myself, since no other gardener seems capable of raising this particular herb to robust maturity the way I can.

I sincerely hope this doesn?t sound too pompous. But can a statement be pompous if it?s true? I don?t think so.

And please, please, please, I beg of you, do not make yourself sound common by using any of the Taraxacum officinale?s long list of nicknames. As distasteful as I find this, I suppose it will be necessary to list the names that I do not expect to see on my award: Blowball, Cankerwort, Lion?s Tooth, Priest?s Crown, Swine?s Snout, Wild Endive and Telltime.

Use none of these. Nor Pissenlit, Pissabed or Wet-a-bed. While it?s true that the plant is very useful for its diuretic qualities, I fail to see the need to label it for this quality alone. The Taraxacum officinale is, after all, one of nature?s most versatile herbs, hosting the greatest number of healing qualities ever contributed to a single plant. This was the reason that Europeans introduced its seeds to Canada in the first place and yet another reason my talents should be recognized; I may end up as the last Canadian gardener who can successfully cultivate this herb.

If you are determined to show your roots, it will be forgiven if the plant is now and then referred to – in conversation ONLY mind you; definitely NOT to be engraved on my sizable trophy – by its most common name, ?Dandelion?. I am sure you will be pleased to know that my Dandelion specimens have once again survived the winter under my remarkable care and are flourishing.

I will be updating their progress every week on my web site, so stop in if you want to turn yellow with envy. And by all means, if anyone out there actually thinks they can compete with me, a little competition will make polishing my trophy over the long winter months that much sweeter.

So go ahead. Make my summer.

Shannon McKinnon is a Master Taraxacum officinale Cultivator from Northern BC. Check out the remarkable progress of her Dandelions at www.dandelionchampion.com