Benign Neglect

Some try to be kind and call it a “farmer’s lawn”, implying that it is functional and economical at the expense of beauty, that real grass is a minority occupant. Others are more blunt and say it’s a badly neglected piece of real estate, a sad reflection of my twisted priorities.

I use the phrase “benign neglect” to justify my imperfect lawn. The many resident cottontails, butterflies, bees and birds are with me on this. Robins are raising a family on the healthy earthworm population that resides under the untreated sod. Indeed, it is a farmer’s lawn — green, friendly and ecologically functional.

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Dandelions and English Daisies

I actually worked on the lawn today and, as I pulled, mowed and whacked, decided to photograph during work breaks. I focused on Common Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) and its associate, Speedwell (Veronica spp.). English Daisy (Bellis perennis) was also in the mix. All of the featured flowers are commonly labeled as perennial lawn weeds.

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Dandelion (and honeybee) surrounded by a carpet of Speedwell

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The tiny (1/4 inch) flower of Speedwell

Dandelions are prolific generalists, capable of colonizing and carpeting a fallow field. The reproductive potential of the species is enormous: millions of air-born seeds are produced in a field like this; estimates approach 100 million per hectare. Although native to Europe, dandelions are now naturalized throughout the temperate regions of the world

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A weed is a plant growing in the wrong place at the wrong time. Under different circumstances, it may not be a weed at all. Dandelion root is a registered drug (diuretic) in Canada; the leaves yield nutritious salad greens; the flowers are harvested to make dandelion wine.

Wildlife species that utilize dandelions (leaves, nectar or seeds) for food include deer, rabbits, turkeys, goldfinches, sparrows, butterflies and bees.

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Red Admiral butterfly nectaring on Dandelions

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Goldfinch picking and eating seeds from dandelion seed heads; a White-throated Sparrow was a few feet away, doing the same

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Dairy farm; the fallow fields carpeted in dandelions are preferred feeding sites of White-tailed Deer at night

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

 

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6 thoughts on “Benign Neglect

  1. I also have my own imperfect lawn. Besides, I think it’s a travesty to be watering grass during what’s becoming a serious drought in our corner of the country. I’d like to start a revolution to eliminate the perfectly manicured, watered and chemical-ized lawns. 🙄

  2. I love the imperfect lawns. If all of our five acres was mowed at the same time, it would kill my photography subjects. 🙂

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