Who would look dangerously up at planets that might look safely down at plants?
Sunday, 21 August 2011
One man went to mow
The 'long' meadow this afternoon
Cowslip (Primula veris) capsules.
One of the most important decisions to be made each year is when to cut the 'long' meadow ('long' as in long grass) It gives so much pleasure, from the first crocuses and snowdrops in February, through to now when there were still of flowers of Geranium pratense, Malva moschata, Centaurea nigra and Astrantia major. But they were comparatively sparse and had all set plenty of seed already, and the seed of other important species was ripe or had already been shed, including from the Iris latifolia that flowered so beautifully in June. As it was a bright and breezy day it wasn't difficult to decide to get it done this afternoon.
A few years ago, while visiting Levens Hall in Cumbria, we watched the gardening staff mowing long grass with scythes and were very impressed by the cleanliness and quietness of the process. Intending to copy their example I acquired a scythe a few weeks ago, and this was its first proper outing. I got the mowing done, at the cost of three blisters and a stiff back, but it was distinctly haggled - I need practice! It probably took a little longer than doing it with the mower, but without the noise or hassle of restarting every few minutes, or clearing the blades, and the mowings fell as hay rather than mush, so there are definite advantages.
A personal view of the world of horticulture and plants by a gardening botanist and author, living in Settrington, North Yorkshire, and working as Director of the Yorkshire Arboretum, a partnership between the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and Castle Howard.
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'Snowdrops, A Monograph of Cultivated Galanthus' Available from Griffin Press
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