"If you want to attract wildlife into your garden, and increasingly most of us do, the key thing is you've to abandon trying to control every aspect of your garden and that will allow wildlife in."
Monty Don on Gardeners' World.
This is a quote from a recent show, but he has been talking about this subject for years now. And we have followed his example.
I expect most men just love to mow. I know that Tom always did. But he has had a sea change in his view. He no longer mows any of the lawns every week. In England this past May was "no mow May". At Windy Poplars Farm, it might be called "mow once in a while in May, June, July, August". And you should see the results. Both red and white clover, little white flowers I don't even know the name of, daisies, hawkweed, dandelions, Achillea/yarrow have all grown and prospered. We have seen bees and other bugs on them. When Tom does mow he leaves whatever is still in bloom. Along the edge of one garden a whole row of achillea grew; a real row - as if we had planted it.
Another benefit is that when it is dry, as it was here early in the summer, the grass stays much greener.
We shake our heads in pure delight at this change in our yard. The big fields are mowed only once a year at the end of the summer. When we had more animals we used to bring them into the other fields, but with only 8 sheep and a donkey, the barn pasture is plenty so we let those other pastures become fields loaded with all kinds of plants. Along our road/driveway are tansy, goldenrod, meadowsweet, brown-eyed Susan, buttercups.
It is a veritable garden of Eden here now. In addition to all these wildflowers, a couple years ago we planted echinacea, monarda, perennial hollyhocks, and achillea milleflora in the terrace garden, and the butterflies and bees are plentiful. I left the flowers on the catnip plant and it is full of bees every day. There is a wild garden off the side yard where there are lupines and comfrey and globe thistle, and loads of milkweed.
"Wildlife" has quite a different meaning to the people on Gardeners' World and people who live where we live in northern New England. It is not the bees and butterflies and other flying pollinators. Our wildlife is deer and coyotes and black bears. We've had them all visiting this spring and summer. The coyote only once. It was the biggest one I've ever seen. It was just looking into the pasture. I opened the door and said it should probably leave now, and it did. A mother and her two fawns come and eat from the garden most evenings, and they haven't done much harm. I don't begrudge them anything really because I am happy they come by. We also had a young bear early in the season. Just saw one the other evening and wondered if it is the same one, only bigger. There have been birds nesting, and the wild turkeys with their chicks.
Possibly (probably) because of climate change, we've seen tomato plants pop up all over the garden from last year's tomatoes. Also potato plants and, just like last year, the calendulas have returned. Mallow has come back in grand fashion after being away for a few years, and the hollyhock in the patio garden appeared.
The gardens and animals have been such a source of comfort and deep joy during this kinda still in the pandemic time, and also some family situations that have taken up a lot of time and emotion. Very, very thankful. I wanted to put up pictures today, but just didn't have the time. I'll try and do that soon.