It has been a different kind of year in most gardens, with garden legend Monty Don and the National Trust putting their weight behind No Mow May (and beyond). No Mow May is the idea of Plantlife, an environmental charity. The big idea is that, by not mowing the lawn as the growing season begins, a range of pollinating insects (which are in steady decline in the UK) get the chance to boost their numbers. In fact, a neatly mown lawn is often compared to a desert in environmental terms, with no places for insect populations to thrive. No Mow May has shown positive results since its inception in 2019 and this year, perhaps because Covid has forced us to rethink our environment, the no-mowing has spread in popularity. My personal garden-guru, Margaret has embraced no-mow as have many others (I see these lawns on my walks) - and I have too. Weirdly, I've never had so much fun with a mower.
It is now July and I have been playing games with my lawn since May. Unwilling to entirely give up on a mown lawn, I have compromised, initially mowing about half. This compromise has changed slightly as my most un-mown bits of garden now have paths mown through them and my most mown bits of lawn have unmown patches. It really is great fun - I'm working on a giant heart-shape in the back garden and there is a teardrop in the front. I think my new neighbours (who like a VERY neat lawn) think I'm some sort of reprobate, or have a weird visual complaint...
So the jungle starts on the lawn. My daughter's medicinal garden (I call it hers because it was her idea, but really she barely sets foot in it) has become a wildlife garden. Yes, I call it that because its overgrown. Every now and then I go in and weed around the plants that we have put in, but I almost always disturb a creature. The last time I pulled out a chunk of vegetation, a little frog jumped out! It is a hive of life, with insects all over and the rich soil full of earthworms. No wonder the frog has taken up residence.
In fact the garden as a whole, unkempt as it is, is bursting with life. After raising a brood in my shed, the blackbirds (maybe the same pair) have built a nest in the Virginia Creeper and, judging by the activity, are raising another clutch. I have seen a goldfinch in my garden for the first time and the dawn chorus is so loud that it wakes us up. Most exciting of all, my neighbour reported seeing a hedgehog on the edge of the hedge that borders our properties. How amazing is that! If not mowing and not weeding results in a hedgehog taking up residency, then a manicured garden is something I am only too happy to give up.
Much to the dog's delight, the apples are swelling on my little apple tree, transforming it into what the dog clearly thinks is a thing of miracles - a ball tree. Once again, our house is dotted with windfall apples in various states of chewed.
As for the cauliflowers. Well, I think I can safely consign them to the disaster heap. After being warned to protect them at all cost from butterflies, I built them a tent of enviromesh, which quickly became a slug safe-zone. So I removed the enviromesh. Those that have actually formed a `flower' are very un-cauliflower-y and so I have begun to pull them out. (I need space for tomatoes!) It is an experiment I don't think I will repeat.
The door of my office is open as I write. I can see the daisies in my heart-patch and the abundant green of my overgrown garden. There are birds on the lawn and a bee is buzzing around the sweetpeas just outside. Someone is mowing in some place that is not my garden.
I feel enormously lucky.