Countdown

Mowing looms. The large lawn is reaching the 9cm height limit that will trigger mowing. Parts of the lawn I am sure have reached that height already and if I was an absolutist I would have mown already, but the bugle (Ajuga reptans) is just coming in to flower. I shan’t make the same mistake as last year and let the lawn get much over 9cm in places, but I’ve decided that once the bugle has largely finished its show in about a week or two, the mower will come out. No mowing = No grass-free lawn!

Reaching the height limit.

Reaching the height limit.

This years mild weather has given quite a boost to growth and although I’m delaying mowing for the bugle, it might just vanish before the mower is applied. The changeable environmental conditions are one of the reasons that a species rich lawn is best. Last year we had a cold start to the year and a spring moisture deficit – a mini drought of sorts, and growth was much later and much less lush. A greater diversity of plant species means there are always some plants that can respond well to the conditions.

Disappearing bugle.

Disappearing bugle.

 

It is when mowing looms large that I’m reminded exactly how fundamentally important foliage is to a grass-free lawn. Flowers are the cherries on the cake. The lawn should be first and foremost a ground cover of foliage managed by mowing. That is after all what a lawn is.

Here are some examples of lawn foliage in the neighbouring experimental lawns that were planted in late 2012 for my research into pollinators:

Foliage 1

Foliage 1

There’s a good mix here of two types of Leptinella (Dioica and Squallida) , wild type Potentilla reptans, ornamental Ranunculus repens, Mouse-ear hawkweed (Hieracium pilosella), bugle (Ajuga reptans atropurpurea), ornamental red clover (Trifolium pratense ‘Susan Smith’) and ornamental daisy (Bellis perennis).

 

Foliage 2

Foliage 2

 

An eye catching mix of golden creeping jenny (Lysimachia nummularia aurea), silvery Pilosella tardans (which I obtained as Hieracium niveum), germander speedwell (Veronica chamaedrys), white flowered common buttercup (Ranunculus repens ‘Gloria Spale’), pink dandelion (Taraxacum pseudoroseum) and a smattering of Leptinellas.

 

Foliage 3

Foliage 3

I know there are dog violets (Viola riviniana) in the image, but they will soon fade away and its the leaves that will contribute to the mix of foliage for the rest of the year – along with the Viola odorata leaves now the flowers have already faded. The little leaves of the thyme (Thymus serpyllum), the emerging silvery fur of silverweed (Argentina anserina), the (in this case) shiny mouse-ear  Hieracium pilosella, mix with ornamental spotted hawkweed ( Hieracium maculatum ‘Leopard’) and a little creeping jenny and crosswort (Phuopsis stylosa).

I think I will add a few more foliage images shortly, certainly before the blade falls.

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