I thought I detected just the gentlest hint of antilawnism, among comments on the Garden Monkey's admirable blog. And, because I possess a lawn mower and cut my grass from time to time, felt a little bruised - on behalf of good and kindly lawnatics everywhere.
Having seen Mirabel Osler's wonderful garden, I'm not surprised that her life was full of contentment with neither lawn nor mower. There wasn't room for either with so many other wonderful features.
But there are lawns and lawns and in my rural and cottageous patch, lawn seems to be the most fitting and natural floor. I neither weed it nor feed it and by now, grass is almost a minority plant family among the daisies, self-heal, clover and other 'weeds.' Thoroughfares among our dishevelled borders are more pleasant for being grassed and, with such a bitty and disparate design as ours, turf has a wonderfully binding effect, leading one gently from one spot to another. Thrushes, blackbirds and starlings love short grass, too. Chris Baines, the conservationist, once told me that the best groomed lawns in his neighbourhood were also the most visited by such birds.
As our plant collection grows, and space becomes increasingly sought after, our grass areas shrink and I'm happy about that, but I'd never want to be without any lawn at all, unless my space were too small to accommodate one. Even then, I'd try to cultivate a meadow in a pot. (And that's easier than you might think.)
And talking of meadows, almost half our largest grass area is laid down to a mini-meadow which blesses us with a wonderful run of flowers from aconites in January, celandines, Crocus tommasinianus, fritillaries, pheasant eye narcissus, cuckoo flowers, cowslips, some slightly naff multi-coloured primroses, camassias, lots of summer meadow stuff and so on. At present, there are colchicums and Cyclamen hederifolium, in the grass.
The 'idiots' on Garden Monkey's posting are, presumably, those who strife daily for the faultless outdoor baize of a weed-free, nitrogen-stuffed sward. They mow, scarify, roll, dress with lawn sand, drench with moss-killer, spray weed killer. After too much rain, they dance about puncturing the surface to help drainage, rake out 'thatch,' treat with fungicides and weep tears of rage and frustration if a toadstool should pop up, or, God forbid, a fairy ring! Some of them even try to kill earthworms - the ultimate folly!
The drone of mowers is hell for neighbours, admittedly, and spotless lawns are hardly sustainable, but heck! The lawns are theirs, in their gardens, so perhaps they should be allowed to play in their own way. Just as, I suppose, Chelsea Tractor owners are allowed to play in their way.
I wouldn't want a spotless lawn - though I confess to a sense of internal joy and peace, when I see those nice stripes on our newly mown grass and I would never set the mower blades low enough to cut off the daisy buds. So by the time the novelty of the stripes has worn off - usually overnight - the daisies are back, dotting the undernourished turf.