wild vs neat and tidy green spaces

As a nation we have a natural tendency to like nice neat lawns. Its kind of in our DNA to want all grass to look like the green felt of a snooker table or as closely cut as a bowling green.

And if possible having stripes adds a little something special to the grass – its something that the adverts for gardening try to tap into relentlessly. A lush green lawn is a site to behold and when we have a sustained warm period parks and gardens tend to start look a little brown.

However, any suggestion of letting the grass go is often met with gasps of horror. Yet for me there is something reassuring and magical about green spaces that have become meadows or areas of park that have remained uncut.

This week, when walking home, I noticed that all of the long grasses on a steep green space had vanished. The lawn mowers had done there job creating a nice neat and tidy space and yet something had been lost. Dandelions, grasses, wild flowers, weeds and the playground and food source for insects had disappeared. My natural instinct was one of sadness and it was a real shame that it had been transformed so brutally.

Increasing numbers of councils are cutting the green spaces they care for less: this might be part cost saving, part long term strategy. To some people when important green places aren’t trimmed they may look a bit unkempt and unloved.

For me its the contrary. They come alive, moving away from the one size fits all approach. It develops a string of green jewels; all slightly different and a place that children love to roam. And who knows what creatures or plants may make them their home.

Yes carefully managed lawns have there place – in parks and stately homes – but we need a range of green spaces that show the diversity and wonder of the natural world.

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