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Science/nature/environment

Plantlife.org's No Mow May project

(25 Posts)
Baggs Sat 04-May-19 08:23:25

This project to encourage people to let their lawns grow wild for the month of May is a nice idea. Having done that you then lob a tennis ball into your lawn and count the number of wildflowers that have grown within a square metre around the ball.

Submit your count to Plantlife and they will give you a number: how many pollinators your lawn could support if you let it grow like this each year.

I haven't done this actual survey yet—it's new this year, I think—but one year I counted 214 wild flowering plant species in my garden.

lemongrove Sat 04-May-19 08:31:08

Can’t be done! 😁
I like my lawns too much.However we do have a small wild patch tucked away which produces a few flowers as well as the usual nettles, so shall see what grows this year.

NanaandGrampy Sat 04-May-19 08:33:42

Sounds like a great idea except for the fact if we let the lawn grow for a month it would be too high for the lawnmower at the end of that time then it gets difficult to get it cut down.

I know this from times when we have been away for a month on holiday and its totally unmanageable when we get back .

Baggs Sat 04-May-19 09:27:09

Good point N&G—worth mentioning to Plantlife. I’ll do that later and they can ponder the problem.

Pondering already done here at Boggy Brae: I have a scythe and two strimmers.

Gonegirl Sat 04-May-19 09:50:14

I've been doing this anyway just because it looks lovely when the sun sparkles on the grass. So far I've had primroses. violets, forget-me-nots, and one I haven't identified yet.

Might be borrowing Baggs' scythe at the end of the month.

M0nica Sat 04-May-19 09:50:56

An area of lawn in my garden measuring about 30ft x 50ft has been left to run wild since 1996. I cut it once a year in late July, take the grass off and do not feed it.

The results are rather depressing, it has been taken over by coarse weeds; dandelions, nettles, buttercups, goose grass and all the usual weedy thugs. I have been reduced to using selective weedkiller to clear the nettles, otherwise I would have nettle monoculture, pulling up the goosegrass and taking the yellow dandelion flowers off before they become clocks, in an effort to make room for a wider diversity of plants, but all that does is make space for more hedgerow thugs: several plants whose names elude me, spanish bluebells and grape hyacinth.

I suspect for many of us the results will not be what people hope.

M0nica Sat 04-May-19 09:53:14

I might add I live in a rural area and I am surrounded by rough ground, unkept gardens, a railway line and a band of woodland, so plenty of opportunity for wild flowers to reach my area of wild unkempt land.

Baggs Sat 04-May-19 15:34:01

That sounds disappointing, monica, though I must take issue with your comment about buttercups. Meadow buttercups make a fantastic show in the mass.

I think many people have a false idea about what a meadow should look like because of those mixed seed packets one can get. Meadows vary but the pic below shows one part of my garden last July. It contains plenty of grasses and rushes as well as Greater Birds-foot Trefoil and Common Cat's-ear, which some people would probably regard as a thug. The white umbellifer is Whorled Caraway. At the top, near the tree trunk is a mass of Meadow Buttercups. There are also nettles. I try to limit those but they are good for certain butterflies.

Baggs Sat 04-May-19 15:53:12

Other parts with Devil's-bit Scabious, Wild Angelica, and Common Knapweed.

NanaandGrampy Sat 04-May-19 21:26:59

We did have to have several attempt to strim the garden when we went away ( mainly because we couldn’t see Sam the dog in the garden lol ).

We also found having gone to seed , once down to a manageable level we had a very yellow lawn . I think I’ll just have to watch for wildflowers in the field at the bottom of the garden .

Callistemon Sat 04-May-19 22:51:23

A couple of years ago I tried to turn part of our lawn into a wildflower meadow by sprinkling wildflower seeds and also a large bag of compost mixed with meadow flower seeds from Wilko - but nothing grew. Last year we gave in and had it cut again but this year we have a prolific show of daisies (and a few dandelions).

Callistemon Sat 04-May-19 22:52:15

ps the bees prefer to come indoors waiting to be rescued.

M0nica Sun 05-May-19 08:01:10

I think part of the trouble is that my garden has been under garden cultivation for nearly 1,000 years, that or farm yard, which means heavy deposits of dung and middens. The result being that there is several metres of good rich well-manured garden soil over the natural geology so even 20 years of non-cultivation or feeding has had little effect on reducing the overall soil fertility and as a general rule wild flowers flourish on poorer soils.

This was your problem Callistemon the soil you were scattering the seeds on, plus the compost they came with made the soil too rich. On ordinary soils you are advised to strip the turf off any area being left to go wild before just scattering wild flower seeds appropriate to the geology.

The richness of our soil, particularly the animal manure, which is high in potassium was why I was in danger of a nettle monoculture. The nettles in our neighbour's uncultivated garden grow taller than our 6 ft fence.

I will just have to learn to live with my thugs and remove the nettles when they appear. I get a good mix plants, just nothing rare or delicate. I do intend to plant a hedgerow along one side and perhaps that will bring some diversity.

Beckett Sun 05-May-19 08:23:00

I have clumps of primroses and other wild flowers on my lawn, the gardener cuts around them. The hedges look very untidy but they won't be cut until the birds finish nesting. I am lucky to have a field behind my house and see a lot of wildlife - although lately there do seem to be a lot more crows.

Grandma70s Sun 05-May-19 08:55:59

I think it’s a brilliant idea. I always wanted to let my lawn grow wild, but never quite dared. Now, I haven’t got a lawn.

Even if you just get ‘weeds’ like nettles, goose grass and dandelions, they are important food sources for a variety of creatures. Do it.

M0nica Sun 05-May-19 09:10:39

We have plenty of wild flowers at the front on the grass verge the other side of our access road primroses, aconites, grape hyacinth, daffodils and a host of others that have colonised the land under the trees in the last 10 years, but that is land that has not been cultivated and incorporates quite a lot of gravel from the unmade road surface.

For the last month it has been looking like the medieval flowery meads you see on so many tapestries of The lady and The Unicorn and similar.

Callistemon Sun 05-May-19 14:01:35

This was your problem Callistemon the soil you were scattering the seeds on, plus the compost they came with made the soil too rich.
Our soil is very poor, particularly in the front M0nica - that's why I was surprised when few of the wild flowers flourished. We have barely any top soil on top of rock and probably subsoil. The compost mixed with seeds may have been rich, but it was only a small packet, not a normal sized bag of compost.
We do have a lot of daisies this year, dandelions and some herbs seem to have seeded themselves in the lawn.

I may try again or perhaps just see what comes up in that area this year.

LullyDully Sun 05-May-19 14:09:56

My lawn would be full of dandelion clocks which I fight tirelessly.

Not sure my lawn would be full of poppies, cowslips, cornflowers or oxeyed daisies sadly.

Callistemon Sun 05-May-19 14:11:19

They are all the seeds I put in last year, but haven't seen one yet LullyDully

trisher Sun 05-May-19 14:11:19

Thank you so much for this thread. Now I can say that I'm not too lazy to cut my handkerchief sized lawn I'm taking part in a scientific experiment! And the weeds are wildflowers!

Callistemon Sun 05-May-19 14:12:36

trisher Our neighbours only cut their lawn once a year. I haven't seen any poppies, cornflowers or oxeye daisies in their garden yet, just rather nondescript wildflowers!

M0nica Mon 06-May-19 09:19:33

Our neighbours rarely cut their grass and its main crop is nettles, so tall they top our fence, plus brambles and dandelions. Other plants do not stand a chance.

Baggs Mon 06-May-19 21:21:04

Dandelions are extremely important plants for insects because they flower early in the season. They are also rather beautiful if you look carefully. If dandelions were rare we'd all want them. It's a pity so many people dislike them.

LullyDully Tue 07-May-19 17:08:27

I don't dislike a dandelion as such. It is just that each flower creates so many seeds and it can be difficult to dig right down. No shortage this year, there is a bumper crop where I live.

Alexa Tue 07-May-19 17:27:44

Done it! My grass was patchy due to dog activities. So I persuaded my son to leave it uncut . I positively like dandelions, creeping buttercups, violets, long grass gone to seed, clovers, and daisies .'Perfect' lawns are sterile things .