Firstly, the personal news.
I know it’s been a long time, but I am well, thank you.
I am also busy.
Right, now that’s out of the way, Plantlife UK are encouraging people not to mow their lawns for the month of May. This is an effort to improve the biodiversity of our gardens, which could be a rich habitat for all kinds of life, but in many cases are a boring monoculture of shortly clipped and ‘neat’ grass. Only a very limited selection of critters finds this of any interest at all, and you wouldn’t find anything like it in any natural habitat in the wild.
You would think that this is easy for everyone. Park lawn mower in the shed, leave it alone and let whatever seed has alighted in your garden grow for a while.
But ever since having ‘a lawn’ filtered down from the high-class and gilded mansions with their armies of gardeners, and became something that the likes of us ordinary people could try to single-handedly emulate on our tiny patches of freedom, the fashion among even the lowest but aspiring classes was to try to keep a well maintained lawn, even if they weren’t planning to play a game of croquet on it.
So, while many ‘lower-class’ people might sniff at the excesses of the posh nobs, they imitate whatever fashion the gentry are following at the time in order to attempt to show their neighbours that they themselves are heading upwards in the social orders. Or something.
The class thing in Britain is a never-endingly weird, hypocritical and contradictory hangover of long-past times that still makes no sense at all.
So they maintain lawns. There is also an increasing fashion for people laying ‘astroturf’–artificial lawns–which should be illegal and carry a life prison sentence for any people choosing to do it. After all, it effectively kills more creatures than a particularly rampant serial murderer.
But lawns are a disaster for wildlife. And not just for moles, badgers or deer that might find themselves exterminated for no other reason than not being able to keep off Sir Whoever’s acres of manicured gardens and digging it up, as they would do anywhere else, to look for food. It’s also the small stuff, the insects, the butterflies, bees and bugs–and birdlife eating them for dinner–that thrives on all the variety and flourishes in a numerate and intricate web of interdependence.
I inherited two front lawn areas at this house when we moved in, and I’ve previously revelled in not doing too much with them. I mean, it’s actually a lot easier than doing stuff with them for a start.
No one tells me off for it looking a bit scruffy here, largely because there is no one else here. But even if they were, I’d probably have some words for them.
My current plan is to get digging a pond out in one of them, as there probably isn’t a better wildlife encouragement for a garden than that. The other I’ve recently dug over and seeded with a wildflower mix, which is set to give us a meadow of sorts when it all matures over the next month or two.
On this phone shot from my office window, it doesn’t look like there’s much in flower, but that’s because the yellow carpet of dandelion has gone over to seed and the majority of it now dissipated, although a lot of it fed Goldfinches and Bullfinches before it blew away in the winds. There are tiny Forget-Me-Nots and Cuckooflower in there, Aquilegia and Red Campion, along with an oak tree sapling that has probably germinated naturally from an acorn being buried by a Jay.
It may look a bit short and mown, that is because you do still have to give it a cut occasionally, to give all the species hidden in there a chance to germinate and get going and outgrow the grass, but that last time was in early April.
This morning there was a rainy start and now it’s brightened up, so I picked up my camera for the first time in months and popped out to see what I could do with it. Dandelions are possibly looked down on, a weed to some people, but they are so hard working in nature. They also lend themselves to the black and white treatment I think, their lifecycle after the early-season insect feeding their flowering provides, then bird-feeding with the complicated and photogenic seeding, is just so structurally striking, particularly with raindrops formed on the remaining seed heads.
Anyway, perhaps you might join me? Don’t mow, join the revolution and go a bit wild. And if it’s too late for you already this month, there is #LetItBloomJune and #BloomingHighJuly to come.