Wildflowers extend lawn mower life and inspire love

It TAKES TIME to smell the roses!

Red clover

I suspect it will be a recurring theme in my scribblements, as it is increasingly recurring in my head: half the joy of a blessing is sharing it.  That leaves me with a puzzlement: I also find joy in quiet privacy and seclusion.  It’s not easy to share things in isolation.

Maybe my self-exile has developed to the point of being ready to capture the other half of the joys of quiet privacy and seclusion: sharing them.

This probably has something to do with the creation of TheBalsamean.com.

I have lots of clover in my yard. Last year there was more red clover than white; this year more white than red.  They, along with many other flower-producing plants, moved into my lawn and life naturally, after the house builder’s “lawn” died (good riddance) in 2010, the year he “planted” it.

My yard is a place for nature to show what she can do with an open space, a chance for her to decorate my home.  I’m grateful to her for showing me lovely things every time I step out the door.

In 2011, I counted at least 20 kinds of wildflowers through spring and summer.  I lost count somewhere over 20.  This included so-called weeds, such as dandelions, which I only wish flowered longer.

White clover

Lately every day I see butterflies and bumblebees browsing the clover flowers. Besides their beauty, these critters are important pollinators.  More pollinators, more fruit.

I grew up conditioned to enjoy a blanket of nice, dense green grass.  A golf course looks nice.  It has its own kind of attractiveness … at a price.  However, the birds I watch from this window near this keyboard like my lawn the way it is.

I could create a monochrome green lawn at considerable expense in lawn products and water to create something that would not naturally grow here, or I can keep what nature provides freely, without running the water pump to sustain them, in a kaleidoscopic range of colors and shapes.  For me, the choice is obvious.

grass

As with Hallmark and card-giving occasions, I suspect that solid green, “weed-free” lawns are an invention of lawn-product makers.  How did the Scottish inventors of golf maintain their greens before Scotts lawn products came along?

In some areas where I have tossed a little grass seed here and there over the years, the grasses have taken over almost completely, without the help of weed-killers, fertilizers, or lime.  They are hardy grasses, the ones that naturally want to grow in this acidic soil and hard winter conditions.  They are the right grasses for my yard, where my yard lives.  For as long as the wildflowers want to grow before grass takes over, I will let them.

This year a new Balsamean moved into the front yard.  Daisies.  Scads of daisies.  Loads of them, spreading rapidly.  Now THESE, we have in such great abundance, and they take to a vase so well, I don’t mind cutting some.  They bloom for a long time, in a succession of new blooms timed over several weeks.

Please don’t mow the daisies

With this natural cornucopia, I don’t have the heart to mow the “lawn” until the wildflowers have matured, so they can reproduce.  But new ones occur each season.  So I’d have to avoid mowing altogether to let them all grow.  Beginning this year, my strategy is to reduce the size of the areas that I mow, to let the wild things flourish at least around the perimeter.  And, throughout the lawn I mow around some patches of wildflowers.  “Lawn mower gardening.”

I have a small clearing out back, a few hundred feet from the house.  It was a logging header about a dozen years ago.  Everything grown on it got completely wiped out during the house construction, because that’s where I let them bury tree leftovers from clearing space to build the house.   We did not replace the topsoil.  I did not seed it.  (Actually, I’ve been tossing pine, spruce and balsam cones into it.)

Blackberry flower

Blackberry flower

Over the period from 2005 to 2010 (the year it was excavated), I kept that area mowed.  Since then, I let three-quarters of it regrow naturally.  The other quarter I mowed.  In the spring of 2011 and 2012, as snow melted in the mowed area, it turned to deep mud.  Being the cover over buried tree stumps, I wondered if it would cave-in under me.  (Among small depressions, there was one serious cave-in back in a corner, big enough for the dog to get in there.  What a job it was to fill that cavern.)

In the un-mowed area, we have FAR MORE beautiful, natural grass per square yard (among a plethora of wildflowers and loads of new berries).  This year (2102) I’m not mowing all of that formerly mowed portion of the back lot.

It is very hard to get a clear shot of a pollinator when it is busy

Instead, I’m mowing only a walking path through it.  Each year I’ll alternate the mowed path from side to side, to let the non-mowed parts go to seed.  That seed will fill the area with grasses.  They are coming along great … tall grasses of four kinds, among other plants.

It’s not just a tactic to avoid mowing.  I enjoy mowing and snow clearing.  They are forms of moving meditation.  But I do like to reduce wear-and-tear on the machines, and reduce consumption of fuel and production of pollution.  Still, these are side-effect benefits.

The objective is to let the yard fill with things that naturally want to be there, and they are all good things.    This year blackberries flourished.  If I don’t do SOME mowing, they will take over, and they are no fun to walk around in, especially barefoot.  Thorny.

Many people would be aghast at what a “terrible” lawn I have.  This is just one of the many reasons it is such a good thing that I’m the only one who has to live here.

I like the yard more every year.  I look forward to what it will produce next year.

Bless all its natural inhabitants for extending the life of my lawnmower!

When I sit and think seriously about such things – the beauty I live in, and the freedom to enjoy it in seclusion – I mean really think about it, contemplate it, meditate upon it, as is what happens while striving for the perfect photo, then studying the thing in the photo as I cannot do with my naked eye in the field, then writing about it and choosing how and where to incorporate the photos into the writing – then go out again and see them, these friends of mine, happy and free, inspiring me to love – well, seriously, when I give it this much attention, it brings me to tears to be so blessed.  Seriously.

“Inspire me to love?”  Yes.  As the love of beauty grows, so grows the beauty of love.

Yeah, so I’m a tree-hugging flower-brained pinko pussy.  So sue me.

What are your thoughts on any of this, large or small?  How does your garden grow?  Use the comment box here or contact me privately.