Posting day: Sunday, and, sometimes, maybe, extra bits in between.
Sunday June 7th 2020
Isis and the garden in 2020? Perhaps a more apt heading would be ‘Human gives up’.
Some very loyal and long suffering readers may recall that years ago, when my energetic podengo had pounded the last, stubbornly remaining blades of my lawn into the earth’s crust, I decide that something must be done
After months of researching products designed to protect grass from juggernauts, footballers and packs of rampant dogs, the decision is made. At great expense the special rubber mats and the ‘Dogs and Sprogs’ grass seed are purchased and the date for the transformation set.
But the grass doesn’t grow well.
Near the house, is a very small area of long grass which hasn’t been tended for years. I allocate this to Isis.
and the rest, the fantasy lawn, I fence off.
Perhaps it will grow over the next year … or the next.
Four years later, when spring arrives, the ‘new lawn’ is still sparse and fragile. But some green has emerged, and I decide to give Isis access to a quarter of the plot for a few days, then fence that bit off and allow her to prance on the next quarter and so on. Thus, she can run free, and I might be able to preserve a patch of green here and there.
I expect her to be delighted when I move the fence aside, but she isn’t. In fact, she is very reluctant to venture beyond her little patch.
It’s several days before she sets foot in the long lost realm where once she frolicked unrestrained. When, eventually she edges in, she creeps forward inch by inch sniffing the ground before her. She sidles up to the border as though there’s something very nasty there waiting to bite her. If she brushes against a twig or a plant, she leaps backwards as if she’s been stung.
To make her feel more at home, I pick up her snake and offer it to her. She grabs it immediately, and rushes into the house with it.
In the evening, full of energy, she she flings toys around the back room and thrashes the rug to within an inch of its life.
Over the following days she goes back into the strange territory, but her garden demeanour now is very uncharacteristic. In a lady-like fashion, she minces along, sniffs around her very cautiously, fusses about where to settle, and eventually nestles at the edge of the border, mouthing a soft toy until she decides it’s time to come in. Everywhere else, she is her usual bouncy self.
It’s all very strange. I can hardly believe what I’m seeing. Perhaps, after all, it might be possible to reseed the grass, grow a beautiful, thriving, green lawn and share the garden with Isis.
My fantasies are brought to an abrupt end, however, when, two weeks later, she recovers from garden alienation and resumes her normal persona.
Soon, even the sparse clumps have surrendered.
Then, three weeks ago, I’m listening to GQT (Gardeners’ Question Time) on Radio 4 when a listener asks how she can control a weed which has sneaked into her lawn.
The lawn expert who responds tells her that once desirable, neatly striped lawns are now considered passé in garden circles, that they no longer feature in prestigious garden shows, and are fast disappearing from parks and estates.
Gosh, so they are, I reflect. It’s several years now since the wild flower meadow was established in Highbury. And this year, I notice, instead of whole areas of grass being mowed short, most grassy areas are being left to grow, and a few interconnecting paths mowed through them.
The GQT man says that this ‘wilding’ approach works well in gardens, too. The secret of success, he advises, is to maintain a closely clipped edge around the wild area. This will catch the eye and immediately establish that the wildness is planned.
I’m definitely liking this.
I quickly convert my front grass patch into a shared area: some for the bees and insects, some for established plants.
This can work in the back garden, too. I can allow tough, native meadow grass to grow all over it. This grass will resist Hairy One’s batterings. She can enjoy throwing herself around, I can enjoy the wildlife, and there’ll be very little maintenance.
Shame I’ve only used my new lawn mower once. Otherwise, though, it’ll be a win-win situation …………………………………….
*Isis came from the Aeza cat and dog rescue and adoption centre in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or www.dogwatchuk.co.uk