South of the river and north of the house, there is a big expanse of grass and flowers and life that I like to walk around at least twice a day. It’s a nice place to be. But this isn’t the only area of grass that is left to grow at this time of year. There are half a dozen or so little flower meadows dotted about the gardens of the Priory. These are where I have planted drifts of daffodils in the lawns. For six to eight weeks after they’ve finished flowering, I leave them be, mowing around them and waiting for the foliage to die back.
And then, eventually, I strim the long grass and start to mow normally. This does, unfortunately, leave pale patches on the lawn (you can see two in the above photo up against the banks of the East Pond). But after a few weeks they green up and disappear.
But some of these Daffodil Islands survive longer than they need to. You see, I can’t bring myself to strim them. There is one in particular over by the West Pond. Here it is:
The daffs are long, long gone and it really ought to be cut back now but I can’t bring myself to.
It is so pretty and beloved of bees and butterflies, that I can’t. I can’t and I won’t. So don’t ask me. At least for the time being.
If you look back at the first photo of the meadow you’ll notice how the grass is much longer than that in this ‘Island. But if we continue to mow the former as we have been, removing all the cuttings, then one day (probably years after I’m carted off) the big flower meadow will look like the small patch above. A drop of concentrated meadow essence.
Further areas that I have left uncut are the banks of the two ponds:
In the past, I strimmed these steep banks several times during the summer after the daffodils had died back. But, whilst there are nettles, docks and thistles in amongst the good stuff and I realise that the banks look terribly neat and trim and sculpted when strimmed (rather nice actually – Ed), they are better a little ragged, a little shaggy and full of flowers. I think.
I will need to strim them at some point or else I shall be up to my earlobes in alder and elder, bramble and willow.
There is reed mace growing in the East Pond for the first time and I like how it merges with the unshaven banks; I am concerned, however, at how invasive it may become.
Last autumn, along the base of a section of the beech hedge, I planted crocuses and this year have avoided mowing it whilst they died down
And then I got quite fond of the look of it (monk’s tonsure and all that) and then, and then
and then another bleedin’ spotted orchid appeared. What is it with orchids – are they trying to be as common as muck? And how many more are there that I must be mowing over year on year, just waiting for the opportunity to throw up a flower spike. Two a penny at the Priory it seems. Extraordinary. But I’m not complaining. Still, it is another area of lawn I can’t yet start mowing. Not until the orchid has seeded.
The other area that I am not strimming this year, in order to allow it to flower, is the ditch that connects the two ponds.
|The meadow is to the left and the north lawn to the right|
And it is responding marvellously, full of flowers and insects and froglets. The latter avoid me by jumping for cover when I walk past. But I see them.
All these temporary wild areas will, sadly, be strimmed in time. They have to be in order to avoid them being colonised by scrub and tree. But for the moment vibrant, colourful, abuzz and full of life they are integral to the garden.