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No Mow May 2022

Just days into May the flowers begin. Image – Oli Haines

Throughout May 2022 Plantlife have once again made their impassioned annual plea for garden owners across the UK to resist the urge to mow lawns and tidy up their gardens and to join in with #NoMowMay. It’s a simple enough premise to leave grassy areas alone for a month, and it has huge benefits for biodiversity at this time of year to do so, giving a wide variety of flowering plants a chance to bloom early in appeal to our rich network of vital pollinators.

As in 2021, we here at NHBS have participated this year by letting the grassy areas on our premises flower and the results were quickly quite astounding. Within days there was a carpet of daisies and dandelions, Germander Speedwell and Black and Spotted Medic, and, as the month progressed and we explored further, the picture grew more and more complex. Tangles of Common Vetch, Creeping Buttercup and Common Mouse-ear proliferated, and tall fronds of Beaked Hawk’s Beard, Ribwort Plantain and Prickly Sow-thistle appeared. Hidden deep within a mixed mat of grasses the miniscule flowers of Cut-leaved Crane’s-bill, Thyme-leaved Speedwell and Scarlet Pimpernel flourished and, at the lawn edges, tall stands of Garlic Mustard and Cleavers towered over the last of the seasons Bluebell flowers.

It can still feel strangely radical to let an area of public space, or even a private garden, to grow wild. Perhaps it can feel like going against the flow to sit back and not mow or trim the grass, and to embrace a modicum of wild chaos. Much of our wildlife relies on the flowering plants that we suppress with our tidiness and our control of lawns. Multitudes of beetles, bees, ants, moths and butterflies have evolved alongside plants that, given half a chance, can still thrive in our green spaces. No Mow May offers us a glimpse into this rich relationship, this conversation in time, and it provides a lifeline. One flower that showed up in our lawn here, by way of an example, is the Cuckoo flower or Lady’s Smock, a light and elegant pink flower of grasslands that is almost exclusively selected by the Orange-tip (and Green-veined White) butterfly in spring to lay their eggs on, as it feeds the caterpillars when they hatch. Growing up to 50cm in height its reach is well within the mowing range.

In addition to the No Mow May initiative, Plantlife have also introduced Every Flower Counts, a citizen science survey that asks participants to count, record and report back the flowers found in a single metre squared patch of lawn . This will enable them to gather important data on the impact that leaving areas to grow can have on abundance and biodiversity.

As May winds to a close, species are still beginning to emerge in our lawn ready to flower in June: Spear Thistle, Oxeye Daisy, members of the Carrot family and, with a final flourish of the month, a Bee Orchid slowly opens its blooms right by the footway, surprisingly cryptic until you meet it at ground level.

Bee Orchid (Ophrys apifera). Image – Oli Haines

We hope that we can leave our grass uncut for a little longer so we can see who’s still there to flower, and that those of you who have participated in No Mow May may feel inspired to do the same.

Below is a list (in no particular order) of the flowering plants we discovered on our premises during No Mow May this year and a small selection of guides for wildflowers and grasses, plus some suggested reads for those who have inspired to take wild gardening further.

  1. White Clover – Trifolium repens
  2. Red Clover – Trifolium pratense
  3. Common Vetch – Vicia Sativa
  4. Germander Speedwell – Veronica chamaedrys
  5. Common Speedwell – Veronica persica
  6. Thyme-leaved Speedwell – Veronica serpyllifolia
  7. Common Dandelion – Taraxacum officinale
  8. Common Daisy – Bellis Perennis
  9. Meadow Buttercup – Ranunculus acris
  10. Creeping Buttercup – Ranunculus repens
  11. Cuckoo Flower – Cardamine pratensis
  12. Yarrow – Achillea millefolium
  13. Spotted Medick – Medicago Arabica
  14. Black Medick – Medicago lupulina
  15. Bluebell – Hyacinthoides non-scripta
  16. Cut-leaved Crane’s-bill – Geranium dissectum
  17. Common Mouse-ear – Cerastium fontanum
  18. Ribwort Plantain ­– Plantago lanceolata
  19. Bee Orchid – Ophrys apifera
  20. Herb Robert – Geranium robertianum
  21. Oxeye daisy – Leucanthemum vulgare
  22. Beaked Hawk’s-beard – Crepis vesicaria
  23. Catsear – Hypochaeris radicata
  24. Broad-leaved Dock – Rumex obtusifolius
  25. Sheep’s Sorrel – Rumex acetosella
  26. Southern Marsh/spotted Orchid Hybrid
  27. Creeping Cinquefoil – Potentilla reptans
  28. Primrose – Primula vulgaris
  29. Common Ragwort – Senecio jacobaea
  30. Hemlock – Conium maculatum
  31. Hemlock Water Dropwort – Oenanthe crocata
  32. Cuckoo-pint – Arum alpinum
  33. Scarlet Pimpernel – Anagallis arvensis
  34. Nipplewort – Lapsana communis
  35. Bristly Oxtongue – Helminthotheca echioides
  36. Cleavers – Galium aparine
  37. Ivy-Leaved Toadflax – Cymbalaria muralis
  38. Wood Avens – Geum urbanum
  39. Garlic Mustard – Alliaria petiolata
  40. Red Valarian – Centranthus ruber
  41. Hoary Willowherb – Epilobium parviflorum
  42. Broad-leaved Willowherb – Epilobium montanum
  43. Fringed Willowherb – Epilobium ciliatum
  44. Procumbent Pearlwort – Sagina procumbens
  45. Groundsel – Senecio vulgaris
  46. Cornsalad – Valerianella locusta
  47. Spear Thistle – Cirsium vulgare
  48. Prickly Sow-thistle – Sonchus asper
  49. Common Nettle – Urtica dioica
  50. Lesser Trefoil – Trifolium dubium

 Suggested books and equipment

Wild Flower Flowcharts Species: ID the Easy Way
Spiralbound | March 2022
£6.99

 

 

A Field Guide to Grasses, Sedges and Rushes
Spiralbound | April 2016
£11.99

 

 

 

 

The Wild Flower Key: How to identify wild flowers, trees and shrubs in Britain and Ireland
Paperback | March 2006
£24.99

 

 

 

Harrap’s Wild Flowers: A Field Guide to the Wild Flowers of Britain & Ireland
Paperback | November 2018
£19.99

 

 

 

Collins Wild Flower Guide: The Most Complete Guide to the Wild Flowers of Britain and Ireland
Paperback | June 2016
£24.99

 

 

 

Making a Wildflower Meadow: The Definitive Guide to Grassland Gardening
Paperback | February 2015
£16.99

 

 

 

Wildlife Gardening: For Everyone and Everything
Paperback | April 2019
£14.99

 

 

 

Q1 Quadrat
£14.99

 

 

 

 

Q2 Quadrat
£15.50

 

 

 

 

Opticron Hand Lens 23mm 10x Magnification
£12.95 £14.95

 

 

All prices correct at the time of this article’s publication.