Leaves of GrassMonday 24th April 2000
'I CAME ACROSS AN EFT,' says Barbara, as she trims the long grass against the patio (Barbara is as keen on crosswords as she is on gardening). We're always careful to keep a look out for frogs and newts when we trim the wilder corners of the garden.
My sketch shows an Eft, in this case the young of the Common Newt, at an earlier stage of development in the pond, when it still has feathery gills sticking out from either side of its head, but the front legs are starting to appear.
There is a fashion for replacing small lawns with expanses of pebbles at the moment. Laid over a sheet of plastic, the pebbles don't require much weeding, or any mowing. But I'd rather have a patch of grass. Blackbirds and Song Thrushes search for worms. Bumble Bees visit the Dandelions. The shaggy green carpet is dotted with Daisies and, in worn patches, there are a few Plantains, relatives of the banana.
The closer you look the more you'll see.
At this time of year there are television advertisements for 'weeding and feeding' lawn-care products - a combination of herbicide and fertilizer - which you simply apply to the lawn, wait for a week or two, and just watch the improvement. A message in small print at the bottom of the screen flashes up which probably says something about the risks to pets and yourself if you're careless with herbicide.
But, even without going to the expense of buying the product and running the slight risk of poisoning pets, a lawn will be transformed at this time of year. The weather warms and the ground begins to dry out. Moss dies back and grass makes its spring growth. Who wants a lawn without daisies, anyway? (most of the gardeners in England to judge by the burgeoning aisle of chemicals in the garden centres. I always know I can bypass that section altogether).
Following on from the fasciated daisy the other week, I was presented with a fasciated Dandelion today. It's stem was the width of a narrow belt. The girl who brought it took it home to feed to her rabbit.