I leaned against the stone wall, the Dahlia garden towering over my head behind me.
I had gardened and mowed there, shored up the rocks in the wall, even buried our dog Gus there. But it was the first time I just sat there.
After a two day whirlwind of selling and shipping wool, I was taking some time before going back to work, to just be. I watched the bees and butterflies swarm the dahlia’s, some of the few flowers in the garden still offering pollen. And every time my mind wandered away from what I was experiencing directly in front of me, I encouraged my eyes to see something new.
Minnie left the back porch to sit by my side, leaning up against me comfortably licking her paws and washing her face. That’s when I looked down instead of up.
And there it was, the soft grass beneath and around me.
A rich and diverse mix of grasses and flowers. Multiple shades of greens, yellows and whites, varied shapes and textures.
I couldn’t help but think of so many of the lawns I saw growing up in the suburbs on Long Island. Like monocrops, they spouted only one kind of grass. Anything else that dared to grow was immediately plucked or poisoned.
I noticed the varieties of clover and wondered which was the favorite of the donkeys and sheep. I saw the leaves of the wild geranium that I let grow up as groundcover around the dahlias, making itself flat to avoid the mower. I recognized the White Man’s Foot, an invasive species that the Europeans brought to America and got its name from a tribe of native Americans (I’m not sure which one) for obvious reasons. The dandelion leaves made me wonder how much of my lawn was edible. I couldn’t begin to distinguish between the grasses.
And those were only the plants I recognized.
All this food and medicine growing right in my backyard. Unlike the shag carpets of the suburban lawn, I imagine they must relay wisdom through my bare feet with each step. How I’d love to know about each one of them, and how to tell them apart.
In the pastures, the plants that aren’t eaten by the animals grow tall and flower. Reseeding themselves every year. Around the house, they lay low. Violets in the spring before mowing begins, then buttercups, dandelions, and clover.
I plant my gardens every year, but my lawn is a wild garden of its own.
4 thoughts on “My Lawn Is A Wild Garden”
I was just reading how sheep and goats break up the soil with their hooves creating safe places for seeds to fall into and flourish.
Oh interesting Janet, I didn’t know that! And then it’s fertilized too.
Oh Maria, I’m so happy to read your post about wild lawns. We live in a tiny 1870’s farmhouse on 1 1/2 acres and have several neighbours in big houses with perfect golf course lawns. They spend hours on them, dumping chemicals, and using machines every day. I can’t understand why. Ours is like yours, full of interesting plants and surprises. I wouldn’t have it any other way even though those neighbours are not happy with our wild garden lawn.
Do you remember the PBS show The Good Neighbors about the couple who plant a vegetable garden on their front lawn. That’s us!