Last year, an unbearable number of Canada geese decided they liked our big lawn. We didn’t like them, or what they left behind. Shouting didn’t make them go away, running at them was a joke. But we knew that if our lawn was to be usable, the geese had to go.
I asked anyone I could for advice and learned that nothing much seemed to work. A spray used by golf courses did the job for a while but it smelled so bad that no one wanted to outside, which defeated the purpose. Plus it was expensive and had to be applied after every rain. I did discover, though, that Canada geese don’t like long grass. So we decided on the simplest solution. Let the grass grow and hope for the best.
My husband saw this as a cheap and practical solution to a problem. I saw it as an opportunity. Converting a long-established lawn into a country meadow appealed to me, particularly since I believed it could be beneficial ecologically. But would it work? Everything I read suggested that creating a meadow was a long and difficult process. But since letting the grass grow and seeing what happened meant leaving nature in charge, it seemed worth a try.
Early this spring, we cut the lawn once, to mulch the leaves that had stayed there all winter. Since then, we’ve mown only a walking path. The change is startling. From a smooth lawn that looked like this ….
we’ve gone to a lawn that could soon be called a field.
This weekend I returned to North Hatley for the first time since early May. After being gone for a month, I knew that the grass would be taller. Even so, coming around the bend on the driveway I expected to see a variation of this familiar scene.
What I saw was a shaggy lawn that made me question whether we were doing the right thing.
A few days of looking has convinced me that we are. I’m amazed at the treasures that were hiding in the lawn, never able to show off their beauty. Like this mix of ragged robin, buttercups and forget-me-nots.
Or this grass, for instance.
Or this lovely little white flower, which many would call a weed.
The most startling change is the patch of red growing in one or two sections of lawn. It was the first thing I noticed, and the first thing I went out to investigate.
It’s growing in a clearly defined area where, I suppose, the soil suits it perfectly.
Will it spread to cover the lawn/field with a red haze? And what is it? This photo taken by my granddaughter shows that regardless of its name, it is beautiful.
A close-up allowed us to identify it — red dock, or sheep sorrel (Rumex acetosella). Last week I saw it growing in England, in gardens and along the roadside, and I was delighted to find it thriving here at Glen Villa.
Other more familiar flowers appeared mixed in with the long grass. There was orange hawkweed, or the devil’s paintbrush as some people call it. (Pilosella aurantiaca)
There were great spreads of ragged robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi) and forget-me-nots (Myosotis)…
…patches of sunny-topped dandelions (Taraxacum)…
… and grasses that were lovely on their own.
Surprises appeared. Some were good surprises, like this white flower that I have’t managed to identify.
Others were not. Because it turns out that Canada geese can recognize a path when they see one. And that’s where they are choosing to walk.
I’m told there were 50 or more of them one day while I was away, but since I returned, I’ve seen only what they left behind. We may have to spray the path, or leave it to grow as well. Based on what I saw over the weekend, and what Vivienne photographed, a field with no paths wouldn’t be a bad thing.
This first year of the conversion from lawn to meadow is going as well as I could hope. I plan to post monthly up-dates as the summer progresses. I also hope to introduce selected wildflowers that I’m starting from seed. If you have ideas or suggestions for any aspect of this project, please share them. It’s an experiment and since I can’t predict what will happen, I welcome your input.