Meditation on grass

I don’t normally contemplate grass. But when the stuff is growing like a carpet on speed, and it’s so wet that the mower would sink axle-deep into the mossy sponge that was once a kind of lawn, there’s not much else to do, really.

But long grass does look good in the rain. It looks good in the wind too, with great ripples rushing up the steep bank. And when I stumped out in my wellies to the top of the bank, which I normally keep mown, I found it transformed into a dusky haze of purple.

You get a huge variety of shapes thrown in for nothing. Nature does the designing and demands no fee. I am not tempted to try to improve on the work.

I do religiously cut the bank to the ground every year and remove the cuttings in an attempt to reduce fertility, and I like to think that the colour and variety of flowers and grass  is partly due to this.

Orange hawkweed (Pilosella aurantiaca) and its yellow cousin create threads of colour all over the bank. Unfortunately, they are quite invasive, and I’m constantly digging them out of the borders where they seed themselves. This year has also been remarkable for the number of purple orchids (dactylorhiza spp) and lesser butterfly orchids (Platanthera bifolia).  It must be the wet: You can see my floating lawn behind the flower.

Grass has a number of large predators, which rapidly ruin the display through their ability to consume it in huge quantities. Luckily they live on the far side of the fence.


17 thoughts on “Meditation on grass

  1. There’s something very serene about long grass. I like a curving path mown through it but that only works if the mower won’t sink into the depths!

  2. Well apparently you don’t have that big deal of mowing as you told me…
    Your lawn is now a beautiful meadow, I bet the step is short to a grass garden!
    Seriously I think a meadow like that under all that rain could go easily out of control though, you shall open the gate and welcome those big predators, I know they are fierce and frightening but you have to take this risk man, for your lawn’s sake.

    • Hello Alberto, I did think of you when I was taking the photographs – but I’m not sure I could improve what I am already provided with. Cows and gardens don’t really mix well. Occasionally they do escape and come exploring, but their raction to freedom is to dance on my lawns – and that is fairly disastrous!

  3. on saturday under semi cloudy skys I attentped mow my back lawn/meadow and failed. I too got the camera out and took pics of the purple haze before me good to be able take time to notice
    beauty before cut down.

  4. We dug up our lawns when we moved in so we could grow more plants. Lawns are a waste of space in such a small garden as ours but I do love grasses and meadows. There is a delicate, unappreciated beauty about the flowers of grasses and I love the movement of grasses in the breeze. I hadn’t come across Fox and Cubs until a year or so ago when I noticed it growing by the side of a road and I wondered what this curious plant was. Now it seems all over the place. It even made it’s way into the planting schemes at Hampton Court Flower Show. I adore orchids and how amazing that you’ve got them in your own garden.

    • Hi WW; I agree that fox & cubs (how did it get that name, apart from the colour?) is becoming more common. Over 40 years, the wild flower ecology on my bank changes frequently. The orchids are on the up at the moment – but wild geranium (cranesbill) and campion (ragged robin) more or less gone.

          • We have now, to a degree. We’ve been in the same area over 6 years now and this house coming up 5. All the moves were related to hubby’s job. It’s an unfortunate element of the modern jobs market. Stay in one place and you end up doing stupidly long commutes and having no life outside work. We know others who’ve moved as frequently. I’d love to find a home and garden that felt like somewhere we would stay and not move from but I just don’t see it happening. I’m just grateful though, we have our own place after years of renting and that we have an income, unlike so many today.

  5. Hawkbit is taking over my border by the field, must move it to the wild flower bank. The flowers on your grasses are beautiful, bet they look super in the wind. Will your lawn take long to dry out, I think we need 3 days without rain before we can cut ours, the weather is supposed to be improving, do we believe them?!

    • Do beware Pauline – Hawkbit spends most of the winter pushing out underground shoots, and will take over your bed if you aren’t careful. Because my lawn is mostly moss, it will take rather longer than three days….

  6. Very pretty Mr K though it irritates me that you have so many orchids. I haven’t seen a single one this year – well, I have the leaves but no flowers. And tell me: how long have you been cutting and removing the grass? Dave

    • The orchids come and go, Dave, but the last two years have seen them spreading around. I even had a pyramid orchid (Anacamptis pyrimidalis) this year for the first time. I have no idea where it came from. As to your question, between me and my parents before me, the grass has been removed for 50 years now…..but don’t despair; yellow clay, whatever its defects, is highly fertile, and your may see much faster results in fertility-reduction efforts – especially if you have much of a chalk component in the soil. You can always help things along with annual dressings of pea gravel to about an inch deep if you can afford it. Eventuallly that should choke out the strongest-growing herbs and leave the weaker brethren a bit of space to breath

  7. Errm Cutting and grass are both forbidden words in our house. Why? My significant other has managed to knacker both the ride on lawnmower and the strimmer…….. all hope of getting the grass cut in the orchard is now just a distant fantasy. Well at least till the wee guy in the next village comes back from his holidays and fixes the petrol strimmer. The ride on lawnmower had just been returned from being serviced when it coughed its last breath…… the cost of the service over £300 and it lasted less than 20 minutes cutting the grass in the orchard.

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