Wednesday, 20 June 2012
A house a few doors down my road has been standing empty for a while, between owners. As a result, the front lawn - to all appearances an unremarkable patch of suburban sod - was left unmown for a few weeks. The transformation was extraordinary. Suddenly this ordinary lawn became a sea of tall Ox-Eye Daisies, soaring above ground cover of clover and medick. Fringed by red and white Valerian, which had taken over the flower beds, along with blue and white Canterbury Bells, this was a delightful sight, aesthetically and ecologically a vast improvement on the shorn norm.
Sadly that norm has been restored now, with one brutal mow that took down all the Ox-Eyes and restored the lawn's respectable appearances. But where had that effusion of Ox-Eyes come from? Usually a neglected lawn down my way becomes a mass of dandelions, lamb's-tails and lush long grass - not tall Ox-Eyes. I suppose there are two likely possibilities - that this lawn was a surviving patch of the original downland turf in situ, perhaps 'improved' with some lawn grass, or, more likely, the original owner of the house decided to lay turf from the downs (this would have been around 100 years ago, when such things were easily done). This turf had carried on for decades maintaining its convincing impression of a suburban lawn - until suddenly, left alone for a few weeks of early summer, it seized the opportunity to reassert itself with that dramatic flush of Ox-Eyes. I hope it gets another chance some time in the future...
The sight of those Ox-Eyes reminded me of walking among the suburban villas above Trouville a couple of years ago and finding patches of Pyramidal and Bee Orchids on every manicured lawn. Nature - it always comes back.