|The mass of green on the left there|
is red clover, just about to come into bloom.
Mow around it!
It's mostly because we're just too tender-hearted. We've just never been able to mow down something we know to be medicinal, or edible, or will feed the wild bees or the humming birds. It just seems bad form to reject what nature offers up so generously.
So for the first few years we lived here, we'd notice some particularly weedy patch in the lawn, and go around it with the mower. Islands formed, miniature eco-systems. I got the chance to learn about plant succession, about "guilds", and about all the ways these new friends of mine could balance my hormones, relieve my fibro-like pain and how some of them were just downright fun - popping the seed capsules of what is locally known as 'himalayan honeysuckle' is irresistible.
|Lambsquarters aka wild spinach. Reliable, |
delicious, and carefree.
Almost a decade has rolled by and in that time the garden has looked different every year. We've added fruit trees, we dabble in vegetables .. okay, to be honest, Paul grows vegetables, mostly I pretend to grow them. I till soil mostly for the great weeds it encourages. I've yet to see bugs eat lambsquarters, but they regularly wipe out the spinach. Fine with me.
Have you ever noticed that when you look at most wild plant sites or books they show you clear pictures of each plant individually (which is obviously helpful) but only rarely do they show them in context? I'm starting to think it's also helpful to let people know that some plants, especially nettles, like to hide amongst their companions. So if you're looking for nettles, look for long grasses and red clovers, they might be hiding there. And if you're looking for red clover, watch out, there might be nettles lurking!
Did you know that earthworms can kill trees? They tilt the balance over to bacteria-rich soil, and trees need a fungi rich soil. So because we have fruit trees, we encourage fungi. Rotting wood is our friend in this. We heat with wood, so every once in a while we get a log that just won't split. I use those to edge beds, and as they break down, they encourage fungal growth. So does the straw I use for mulch. We had to take down a tree that was leaning dangerously towards the house when we first moved here, and we left the stump, as it breaks down it's enhancing the growth of the fruit trees. We even hauled in chunks of a neighbour's gorgeously rotted down stump (yes, he does think we're crazy, thanks for asking). We put some of that in the compost zone and another piece, a rather beautiful bit, was laid down in the grass at the foot of one of the apple trees. Creeping charlie grows over and through it, it's lovely.
|I don't actually use creeping charlie|
but I would if I had tinnitus. It's an
important source of nectar for the bees, too.
That big hunk o' rotted wood is also great habitat for our snakes, of which we have several, I'm happy to say. Haven't had nearly as much trouble with chipmunks eating our strawberries since they showed up. We have lots of rocks here too, also important if you want snakes. Chipmunks are cute, but it gets tiresome finding little bite marks in otherwise perfect strawberries.
Now that's a mullein!
|Spunky little yarrow.|
You know I could keep writing for hours and still barely scratch the surface of what's going on in the garden, don't you?
|Just coming into bloom ..|
|Gather the rosebuds while ye may ..|
|Believe it or not, that's|
|Look closer, can you see the blossoms?|
Ah, but this place of dappled light holds a secret. At first you smell rose, but then something else .. sweeter, even, a little heady, even. It makes you smile, draws you in, what is it? Oh! It's the wild grapes!
Go back and look at the picture of the rose room. All that greenery above and behind, all through the trees - grape vines. No we didn't plant them. If anything, I hack them back every spring, but of course grapes like to be hacked back. Every spring I untangle the vines from among the roses and toss them onto the fence. Every year they scramble along the fence (I think they're all that's holding that poor old fence up, actually) and climb the trees.
But this year, they've outdone themselves. Let's give them a round of applause please, because this year, it's not the rose room any more, it's the wild grape room.
|See those trees? They are COVERED in grape vines.|
I've got a passion for wild grapes. Not just for the jelly but also for the leaves, you can do a lot more with them than just make dolmades, you know.
And of course, gardens that are allowed to run a little wild hold far more than I've been able to show you here. Just in the
What's coming up in your yard? You just never know. Why not let it get a little wild, and find out?