Thursday 27 March 2008

Wildflowers and wildlife

As well as being a bad witch, I am a bad gardener. By that I mean I am lazy. I want good results from as little work as possible.

So, when someone suggested that I go to the garden centre, buy some combined weedkiller and grass feed and apply it all over my lawn, I was determined not to take their advice.

Not only did it sound like unnecessary effort, it would also not have given me the lawn I want.

Back in centuries past a pristine, manicured lawn with not a daisy or dandelion in sight was a status symbol. It proved you were so rich you could afford not to have animals grazing in your garden. However, such a lawn offers very little food for bees, butterflies and birds. Nowadays, so many natural habitats for wildlife have been destroyed that many of these necessary creatures are dwindling in number.

You can buy wildflower seeds to sow in a lawn but many indigenous varieties, such as buttercups and clover, will quite happily self-seed if you ignore your garden long enough.

Artificial fertilisers are also a bad thing to put on your lawn. Local wildflowers often flourish best in poor soil. Chemicals from additives can also seep into the water table and cause pollution.

Another good bit of news for the bad gardener is that allowing your lawn to grow long will also attract birds and insects. So, leave the lawnmower in the shed and instead of doing back-breaking mowing just pour yourself a drink and, from the comfort of a window seat, enjoy watching the birds and the bees in the long grass...

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