Today is biodiversity day. I have been contemplating the wonderful diversity of plant life in the Ayrshire hedgerows and roadsides. We have blackthorn, hawthorn, and apple, the latter cut into hedging as well as allowed to be bushes and trees. We have water avens, and marsh marigold, primroses, bluebells, and bushels of cow parsley or Queen Anne’s Lace, as my father knew it. We have stitchwort and campion. In and through it we have a myriad of bees and hoppers and flies. In consequence, we also have swallows and finches and warblers. Each tier a joy.
As I drive to work on Tuesday and Thursday I go through a particularly delicious and rich stretch. The narrow lanes at this time of year burst with colour. Until I get to Morgue Row. In Morgue Row some tidy-minded farmer has decided the weeds must go. He has, and I suspect it has taken years, knocked most of the diversity out of the place, but until a few days ago the cow parsley was flowering bonnily. Now there are tortured remains, and agonised twisted shapes. He has sprayed each and every inch of the wayside with weed-killer. It makes me wretched to pass it.
Biodiversity is not something for others, biodiversity lives or dies on our own roadside.
I have an intense dislike of manicured lawns.
Yes, me too. However I was greatly cheered this week to hear somebody on Gardener’s Question Time asking how to introduce daisies onto lawns. And they got a helpful and serious answer. We may even get there in time!
Dunblane has lovely bluets and tiny violets that I haven’t seen in years. And I’m so glad to hear you speak of Queen Anne’s Lace. Having grown up with that name for it, I can never quite forgive Britain for ‘cow parsley’.
My father was a true country-man by birth, born in the tiny village his mother’s family had lived in for generations (the family known locally as ‘the stormy Ayles’) and he knew and could give the country, though not the botanical, name for every flower. These names were the same as Shakespeare’s, so I take it unchanged for generations. He could never walk more than five yards in spring without seeing a nest, and again knew the names of all the southern birds. He would take me out at night to hear nightingales and see glow-worms. His actual job was as a journalist. He was a ‘4’ and a furious one most of the time, though not when tracking down the natural world. You can take it that if it was Queen Anne’s Lace to him, that is the true English [sic] name for it.