I don’t have a lawnmower, and use my numerous guinea pigs and rabbits to keep the lawn down. I only have two guineas and one bunny now though, and the lawn has rather taken over. I say lawn but my garden backs on to intensive arable fields so it’s rough grass, and years of mole activity have made the whole garden pretty lumpy.
This year I took the decision to keep the hens in a large pen for their free range time as they do take liberties regarding wandering off, and with all the extra dogs walking round here I worry they’ll get savaged. I worry less about foxes who at least are quick, clean, and accomplished predators whereas dogs harass and maim. Hens do eat a great deal of grass however, and I hadn’t realised their contribution to the grazing. At the moment I am pulling up seed heads and goosegrass and giving it to them in the henclosure which they are really enjoying.
The grass is now well over a foot long, but the main thing I’ve noticed through not having the hens in the garden are the number of colossal ant nests. They are proper cities and conurbations, especially next to the low walls, of which there are a number in my garden. Normally they would be demolished in their early stages by the chooks but a couple are nearly a foot high and almost as wide – it’s absolutely fascinating.
I really like ants, especially the black meadow ants which these are. The rest of the flowers and plants have sort of blended in to the lawn, and I have absolutely no inclination to cut it. I am in awe of the abundance – it’s like a rainforest and quite impressive when I think about the amount of photosynthesis going on from my little patch. I was going to pull up a load of nettles then saw they were covered in ladybird larvae and pupae. My Verbascum are still being ravaged by the mullein moth caterpillars, and the ants are farming the aphids on the daisies. Of course, the geraniums and comfrey and hogweed are alive with all sorts of bees. I love it so much.