Do you remember that Kevin Costner movie ‘Field of Dreams’? Kev plays an Iowa farmer who, after hearing strange voices, transforms his land into a baseball pitch and summons the ghosts of a long-dead baseball team. Ridiculous. Yet, when I bought my first home eight years ago and stood on my new perfectly manicured 15ft by 20ft suburban front lawn, all I could hear were voices in my head telling me to destroy it.
Rumours spread of my debauched gardening plans. My new neighbours eyed me with suspicion – especially when they overheard that I was planning to hire a stripper for the weekend. Soon the clattering of that petrol-powered turf stripper was only drowned out by my own maniacal laughter as I razed the 300 square feet of lawn to mud. You could hear the house prices dropping all along the cul-de-sac. The neighbourhood watched from behind twitching curtains as I carefully broadcast native wildflower seeds over the bare soil. Through the wet winter my front lawn looked ready to host a re-enactment of The Battle of Agincourt.
And then spring came.
Photos: My front lawn vs. my neighbour's front lawn.
Meadow Buttercup, Oxeye Daisy, Cowslip, Yellow Rattle, Lady’s Bedstraw, Crested Dogstail, Red Clover, Ragged Robin. The ground erupted into a riot of colour. And then the wildlife arrived. Bees, bee-flies, beetles, burnets and butterflies. Unexpected species appeared too: Wall Brown and Brown Hairstreak butterflies, Ghost Moths, Wasp Spiders and a lone Common Spotted Orchid. On summer days my mini-meadow sang to me; a choir of buzzing bumblebees and chirruping grasshoppers. My own nature reserve; beautiful, wild, endlessly fascinating and filled with life. I am genuinely bemused as I watch my neighbours struggle with their lawnmowers each week. Why go out of your way to kill something when you can just sit back and let it live? I simply swing my scythe and mow my meadow once at the end of the summer. I imagine I look like that shirtless bloke from Poldark (although in reality I look more like a chunky yet cheerful Grim Reaper).
Photo: Marbled Whites have just moved in this month. I can't tell you how thrilled I am.
Wildflower meadows were once a widespread feature of the English countryside but since the 1930’s we have tragically lost 97% of our flower-rich fields. Many have been improved with fertilisers, re-seeded with faster growing grasses or ploughed for arable crops. This in turn has caused a massive decline in many species of wildlife that depend on them. By creating my own humble field of dreams it feels as if I am summoning the ghosts of the English countryside and giving them life.
And then, last month, I turned the corner to see a deer, an actual wild Roe Deer, lost in suburbia but stood seemingly at home in my meadow. Ridiculous.
Photo: The Roe Deer that stopped by last month.
If you’re interested in creating your own wildflower meadow you'll find more information on our website here.