Are we witnessing the slow death of manly gardening? A new government initiative urges us that for the sake of bees and pollinators we should leave the mower in the shed and let our lawns turn into savannahs. Some thirty councils are signed up. King’s College Cambridge has turned its lawn into a wild flower meadow. Monty Don approves. He has piously decreed that mowing is ‘about the most injurious thing you can do to wildlife’ and a ‘male’ obsession.
Get this, Monty. Mowing in my garden is only a male activity because my wife won’t do it. So I have to, while she watches your bloody programmes! I can’t really complain, mind you. I have a lawn tractor, a pleasure to ride, and generally speaking tasks in our garden are equally divided.
This May — a crucial month in nature’s calendar — I was sweetly asked if I could possibly avoid the tall daisies that had been coming up in patches after I missed three weeks’ mowing due to a machine service. So I now navigate little islets of wilderness on what is still, largely, a stripy lawn. Our bees — we have two hives — love the bonus of the extra pollen for their saddlebags. Flowers, clover, vetch and whatnot stand in high grass where once we played croquet. Even a pyramidal orchid has popped up to see why the mowing has stopped.
I am pretty much converted. The doom-mongering Netflix nature documentaries, the octopus huggers, the badger luvvies, the ill-fated Chinese wet markets and Lord Attenborough — all convince me that a credo of live and let live is the necessary future.