A lawn is pretty much a desert painted green. It has little to offer wildlife other than robins; even when it is infested with grubs, the flickers and skunks will only come long enough to eat them all. Then it resumes its limited function.
Now imagine that space unmowed. It is studded with tall wildflowers and filled with bright butterflies. That is the current state of a portion of our lawn. Suddenly it is full of life - a contributing principality of Planet Earth. The meadow and I are are taking it one step at a time, but here is the general game plan:
I didn't cut it this spring. Almost immediately forget-me-nots bloomed, as did coltsfoot (handy if you have a cough). Before the dandelions could bloom, I dug them out. Then I waited. The only real work I did was to move paths and to keep them open.
It's July now and the meadow is in full bloom. Buttercups, oxeye daisies and white must mallow are standing tall above the wild strawberries, bugleweed and clovers. Call me arbitrary, even shallow, but the pink daisy fleabane (a perennial) had to be pulled because I have decided to focus on primary colours. Sweet woodruff made the cut, as did cranesbill geranium because its pink blossoms don't last and it has a lovely clumping habit. Perhaps I shall also leave the yellow hawkweed (an introduced species) but will have to decide before it seeds; a perennial, it will be doubly hard to remove later and I haven't seen any butterflies on it. Cinquefoil flower heads are forming and rudbeckia (black-eyed Susan) is almost ready to open; both are keepers. And almost hidden at one side I found jewelweed seedings. Also called "touch-me-not," it's a handy antidote to poison ivy and a natural fungicide. Hummingbirds love it too.
Again and again, I go outside to enjoy the meadow. I must find my butterfly book because there are at least six species lapping up nectar and flirting with one another. Whoever they are, all butterflies love summersweet and monadra, both of which I plan to add to the smorgasbord.
The meadow will be finished blooming in several weeks. Then I shall mow the spent plants, scattering and nicking their seeds for next year's show, leaving a small group of goldenrods to sound the closing notes of Symphony 2014.
Our Amazon parrot, Gussie, would have loved it. He relished hanging outside in his cage, and welcomed visitors to it. Once I caught him contentedly studying a chipmunk who was polishing off the sunflowers in his cup. A small meadow full of fluttering wings would have been heaven. I too think it is.