Although I like many others have been staying dry inside of late, the University lawn has continued to grow. It has certainly had an ample supply of water!
In a shock to the system, we actually had a day without rain. I popped out to see how things were fairing – rather expecting a rain induced mush, but I was pleasantly surprised. The first thing I noted were the three honey bees and one large bumble bee buzzing from crocus to crocus.
They were the first bees I’ve seen this year, and it was nice to see them on the lawn. Like the crocus’s and us rain weary people, I suspect they had been longing for some sun.
The rest of the lawn is slowly breaking its winter slumber. The daisies are off to a good start, but it’s the wild form that seems to get going first every year. Much as I like wild daisies, I am quite fond of the peach coloured cultivars. I shall continue to wait.
I’m quite sure that this year there are more crocus flowers than the original number I started with. I rather hope that this means that early crocus are grass-free lawn compatible. After 3 years of mowing I would have expected all the geophytes (bulbs/corms etc) that couldn’t handle the regime to have disappeared by now. It’s a harsh testing regime, but that’s experimental horticulture for you. I’m also quite pleased to see the miniature daffodils are still there too, especially since their leaves most definitely do not have the luxury of getting old and withered (as is invariably recommended) before the mower chops them off.
One little research based snippet to add is that as I have now completed my analysis of plant cover and floral performance I can definitively say that grass-free lawns are best approached as an alternative lawn ‘ground cover’, with floral performance a secondary but not inconsequential consideration.
My research suggests that there is a trade-off between the number of species used in the format and the floral performance of the lawn. Perhaps surprisingly the more species used in the lawn, the lower it’s immediate floral impact – although floral performance tends to have a longer season. This is due to the wide variety of flower sizes and floral productivity of individual species, as well as the length of their floral season. However, in consolation more species means a more stable lawn, with any one species less likely to dominate. There, a naughty peek at the results. Shhh! They’re still secret….