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I’m Half Cut, Are You?
11th March 2019
I may be the wildlife man but I’m also husband, father and friend. Wildlife is just one aspect of my life. Weekends are spent in the garden with family and friends, pets, paddling pools, BBQ’s and football kickabouts, and the wildlife doesn’t care one jot!
I don’t use chemicals and I garden for nature, attracting as many and as varied species of plants and creatures as I can. This applies as much to my lawn as it does to my borders and beds. Throughout the growing season explosions of colour burst out from my lawn attracting bees, butterflies, ladybirds and a myriad of other insects. Dandelions, daisies, buttercup, selfheal, yarrow, trefoil, red and white clover to name but a few.
A trick I’ve learned over the years is that all these flowering plants have evolved alongside large herbivores and are quite used to having their heads chopped off from time to time! So, these days, rather than cutting the entire lawn to a uniform height, I cut it in sections and vary the length. This creates a more natural cycle and encourages different flowers and grasses to thrive and come into their own at different points. If there’s a particularly nice display, I’ll happily cut around that patch until it fades. I’ve even been known to cut funky patterns in the lawn to enjoy from an upstairs window.
What’s all this got to do with family and friends? Well a conventional ‘British’ lawn is meant to be uniform, in height and colour and weed free. That’s what we like, control, uniformity and order. In other words, taming nature, not living with it! And of course, we must demonstrate our power and control to our peers by way of a perfect lawn.
This ethos even extended to our councils. When I was a lad, they cut greens and verges to within a millimetre of their lives, ‘that’ll keep the weeds at bay!’, and then they had to hang signs saying ‘KEEP OFF THE GRASS’, for fear us kids might play on it and wear out the stressed grass. Crazy times.
I never conformed to this way of thinking instead, like my father, I was a chemical free or organic, wildlife friendly gardener. I was brought up to appreciate nature in all its natural glory, not to exercise control. I’ve gardened since I was a young child and a monoculture lawn was never on the menu. I much prefer beautifully colourful lawns full of life and they’re easy to create. There’s no need to create a wild patch, or to meadow cut it, simply mow wherever and whenever the fancy takes you. Think grazing bison, rather than fastidious human and let your imagination lead you. Your lawn plants will love you and your wildlife will too.
Oh, and my secret when friends and holidays do come around, is just chop the lot for the human event. It keeps the humans happy to have a flat play area and simply stimulates even more growth, when the crowd has gone. Be half cut like me, I can recommend it!