Like many English gardens, mine has a nice green lawn – small though it is. I mow it regularly and ensure that it is watered occasionally. I don’t have to water it often as there is enough of the stuff falling from the sky during a British summer to keep it going most of the time.
However, it seems that even the English garden and its lawn are not safe from the all-seeing eye of the watermelons’ tyrannical reach.
The ecological argument against lawns has only compounded their growing unfashionability over the last few decades. Once status symbols found mainly in royal estates and university quads, they became signifiers of suffocating suburban respectability. A survey by the London Wildlife Trust this week found that lawn area in London decreased by 11% between 1998 and 2006, as homeowners replaced grass with garden sheds and paving.
This is a pity. The lawn makes a centerpiece to a garden. Somewhere to sit and admire the colourful borders – and mine are colourful in a traditonal way with lupins, nasturtium, antirrhinum and gladioli during high summer with tulips and Iris during the spring. I also have a nice collection of fuchsia in post and containers dotted about the garden to complement Mrs L’s geraniums. I have no plans to pave over my lawn.
However, that it is green means that apparently, I am not a patriot. If I was a patriot, I would let it wither and die to a sorry dusty brown in the drought that er, isn’t sweeping across the country. Also, apparently, my garden should remain wild for the sake of wildlife, so sayeth the bossy despots of the environmental lobby. Now, I do enjoy wildlife in the garden and we do have plants that attract insects. At this very moment our catoneaster is alive with bumble bees, the pond is flourishing with regular visits from toads, frogs, the occasional newt and, of course at this time of the year, tadpoles. You will also see damsel flies and below the surface, whirligig beetles and water fleas. All of this and we still have a nice green mown lawn. Contrary to the green lobby’s exhortations, it is possible to have both a formal garden and a wildlife habitat – it is not a dichotomy that allows only for either or – even in a small space such as ours.
And it is true that the environmental case against lawns is unanswerable.
As absurd statements go, this is right up there with third hand smoke kills children or MacDonald’s are guilty of causing obesity, or, perhaps, that risible nonsense about a high salt diet being unhealthy.
Is there nothing that we enjoy that these people will not seek to subvert? No enjoyment that they will not seek to pour scorn upon – and eventually seek to control, regulate or ban? Is there to be no pleasure in life? Is there no enjoyment safe from the purse-lipped, lemon sucking, life draining puritanical guilt trippers? Who would have thought that the English garden would be a sinful pleasure?
First they came for the smokers, then they came for the drinkers, shortly after, they came for the salt cellar on your table and the sugar in your tea – now it seems they are coming for the gardeners.
Well, sinful it may be, but after typing this, I’m off to water the seedlings in my greenhouse and do a little dead heading and weeding. I’ve already mown the lawn this morning and I didn’t water it as it rained most of yesterday leaving everything looking fresh, green and inviting.