A glorious autumn Sunday afternoon and with the sun comfortably warm I decided to take my last chance to cut the final patch of long grass in my meadow lawn. I’ve dithered over it for weeks, long after a ‘real’ meadow would have been taken for hay, should I leave its verdant late summer flush to turn to mush in the first frosts or complete my lawn’s return to winter’s boring urban normality and give it all a last mow?
After a sparkling morning dew the rest of the lawn seemed to have dried off nicely but the mower made very heavy weather of it, clogging up constantly with damp compacting macerated vegetation. I realised I’d made the wrong call when it crossed my mind what a nice damp and dense refuge this would have been for amphibians and from the side of the death dealing blades a tiny young frog leapt for its life into the border. It was closely followed by another and then an amber adult emerged more cautiously, a beautiful shining creature and as golden as the fallen leaves. As the struggling mower spluttered to a stop I watched in dismay as dozens of orb web spiders clambered laboriously over the wreck of last night’s web scaffolding and now I’m wracked with remorse. My garden should be a place of safety for wildlife, that’s the whole point of it and why I never tidy up or clear anything away until early spring. Nature isn’t neat and neither should my garden be.
But we all make mistakes, that’s how we learn and this is a valuable lesson, next year’s meadow lawn will have an area left to decay away in its own good time just like the borders, to be home and refuge to as many frogs and spiders as care to take up residence. And on a more positive note, if I saw this much wildlife in these few square metres there must be so much more in the rest of my wild and woolly garden.
It’s been a golden October this year, glowing full of sunlight and colour changing leaves, the clocks go back ready for the dark days return this weekend so I’ve taken plenty of photos to remind me of the light and just how beautiful this season is and how much I love my garden, mistakes and all.