Once in a while I actually do get out and see the sun, breathe some fresh air and stretch my legs a bit; today I went wildflower picking with my daughter and a copy of a wonderful little book for people living in Saskatchewan that I had picked up at Superstore one day:
Our main target was a patch of giant thistle flowers near the Preston Crossing ‘Big Box’ development; they last for quite a few hours without water after cutting and make for a rather striking presentation at the table.
Trefoil, which is growing like crazy on a lot of the roadsides, has an extremely nice sweet scent, as does ‘Pineapple weed’ when you crush the small, petal-less flower heads between your fingers. SWW advises that the latter are ok to eat (e.g. as tea) but the former are poisonous.
[An aside to rant: lawns are a pain; they suck water like crazy and if you want a perfect monoculture you have to apply poisons that are dangerous not only to those applying them, but also to pregnant women and children. So I don’t and my lawn gets a little weedy. Most of my neighbors don’t mind (you can tell who they are because their front lawns aren’t ‘perfect’). A handful (usually older people) are obsessed with their lawns though (e.g. one waters hers until there’s a small stream running down the street) and get angry about mine; I was told in no uncertain terms that I “must” use herbicides. Another one of them anonymously sent me a poison pen letter. I’m fairly certain that I know who did that though (they’re old and crotchety, so I will put some dandelions on their grave when they die >;). But anyway, if I mow my weedy lawn often enough it still keeps the desired mown look (cutting down the tall dandelion plants made my daughter cry ): but they’ll always come back ;). In some patches where daisies are growing I mow around them until they’re done flowering. On one side of my place I have mostly grass and on the other, mostly dandelion or clover in some spots :) The grass side needs watering pretty much daily when its hot. The other side gets enough from the rain and when I cut it is always moist. I leave it to the reader to decide which is ‘better’.]
Update July 14: I note, via boingboing, an article in the New Yorker titled “Turf War“. Apparently what I am growing on the ‘weedy’ side of my place is a “Freedom Lawn” (my, doesn’t that sound nice? :)
the simplest alternative to the modern, industrialized lawn may be a lawn that functions more or less as it did in the eighteen-forties, before herbicides or even sprinklers had been invented. In “Redesigning the American Lawn” (1993), F. Herbert Bormann, Diana Balmori, and Gordon T. Geballe dub such a lawn the Freedom Lawn. The Freedom Lawn consists of grass mixed with whatever else happens to seed itself, which, the authors note, might include:
dandelion, violets, bluets, spurrey, chickweed, chrysanthemum, brown-eyed Susan, partridge berry, Canada mayflower, various clovers, plantains, evening primrose, rushes, and wood rush, as well as grasses not usually associated with the well-manicured lawn, such as broomsedge, sweet vernal grass, timothy, quack grass, oat grass, crabgrass, and foxtail grass.
The Freedom Lawn is still mowed—preferably with a push-mower—but it is watered infrequently, if at all, and receives no chemical “inputs.” If a brown spot develops, it is likely soon to be filled by what some might call weeds, but which Bormann, Balmori, and Geballe would rather refer to as “low growing broad-leaved plants.”
A common weed, or “a feature of flowering lawns”, depending on your point of view.
I like the term “flowering lawn” even better! :)
I planted some and it’s established itself in a few places quite nicely, so I bought more this year :)