The Chequered Lawn

Nature can, at times, benevolently redirect our gardening plans and it is as well to go with it rather than fight against it – going with the flow, so to speak.

Some years back we had the idea of having a patch of grass in the garden where we would plant bulbs – a bulb lawn, as we fancifully called it. We began with crocus, the cheaper selections bought as dry bulbs, and gradually added those crocuses which we used for spring display in pots with daffodils and tulips. When the display was over we planted the crocus in this grass patch. We added a pinch of the Snake’s Head Fritillary around the same time and some common snowdrops and when given access to an old abandoned garden, planted several thousand snowdrops and imagined snowdrops would be our feature bulb.

Snowdrops in grass view (2)
The grass area between these two beds was where we started our “bulb lawn”. I run the lawnmower down the inside of the beds to allow access and the run of the lawnmower also defines the top and bottom of the patch as I simply run straight from the top of one bed to the top of the other so a straight line top and bottom. 
Snowdrops in grass
Snowdrop time

That old garden also supplied two old daffodil varieties which have traditionally been planted in grass – ‘Van Sion’ and ‘Butter and Eggs’ while a few stray muscari and scilla gave some spots of blue and a sprinkle of orchids gave late season interest. We allow the grass to grow until mid-August when all the bulbs have died down and use the saved hay as bedding for our hens and ducks.

Crocus in grass with snowdrops (1)
Crocus were the first bulbs added to this area
Snowdrops in grass (2)
Snowdrops have done well – several thousand planted one by one! 
Narcissus 'Butter and Eggs' in grass
One of the old daffodils planted in the grass: ‘Butter and Eggs’ which has been grown for over 200 years
Fritillaria meleagris in grass (7)
Narcissus ‘Van Sion’ an old daffodil which has been grown from the 1600s.

The snowdrops have done well, which was what we had hoped for, but that original pinch of fritillaries soon began so self-seed and has increased beyond our expectations. It seems the conditions in the garden suits them very well; our wet conditions echoing their natural growing locations of riverside flood meadows. In the last few years we have begun collecting the seed so as to spread it about a little more and this has been a success with flowers and seedlings appearing further away from the original planting. We may have had hopes and visions of drifts of snowdrops – and they will be there – but, I think, the fritillaries will be the more successful as that is what nature has dictated and we will be happy with that.

Fritillaria meleagris in grass (3)
It is the fritillaries which have thrived in the wet conditions of this area. 

It is wonderful to see the increase in numbers in the fritillaries but also very interesting to see the variations in depth of colour which occurs with crosses between the darker and the white forms. 

Bulb lawn grass cut
At season’s end, mid-August, the grass has been cut though I can see that one orchid (Common Spotted Orchid) has been spared to allow for seed to drop – and live in hopes that they may increase in numbers also. Although never planted there is a good selection of wild flowers growing in this patch also. Creeping buttercup and daisies are to be expected but there have been years with a beautiful blue mist on the area from the wild Forget-me-not and last year there was a complete covering of Hawkweed. It all adds interest to our gardening. 

2 thoughts on “The Chequered Lawn

  1. So really enjoyable. The fritillaries are wonderful. I tried bulbs but got a meagre response. Ever thought of a book of musings and pholography? No I mean really thought!?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah, Peter, you flatter so very well. LOL One would imagine the lower end of your garden would suit the fritillarias perfectly – gardening is so often a matter of negotiating natures puzzles!

    Like

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