For a while we had a ride on mower and then it broke down. The fixing of it was long and torturous and in the end, after throwing a lot of good money after bad, we did without. During the few years we had the mower Bert had got into the way of cutting the rough grass at the front of the house into something approximating a lawn and for a time that was good. The grandchildren enjoyed playing on it, as did the dogs.
Of course, back then, our grandchildren and their friends were tiny little things and couldn't have managed long grass. We'd have lost them! But now that they are great big girls they can cope with a wilderness.
For a while after the mower broke down I felt very cross about the long grass that spoiled the look of my flower beds and eventually Bert dug out an ancient push along mower and cut me a six foot swathe at the back of the beds. He also cut paths to the swing, the beehive and the greenhouse. The grass grew long and meadowy and I decided I liked it. I even made a Flickr album entitled In The Long Grass. It seems I’d always enjoyed photographing people and animals in meadows.
After a while I realised that the meadow had benefits other than providing a background for my photographs. Butterflies and other pollinating insects became more numerous. I stopped feeling guilty about overgrown and weedy areas. And there were birds everywhere.
This warbler flew into the glass at the front door and stunned itself. We perched it on a bamboo cane and set it inside the hedge until it recovered its equilibrium. That's how I got the picture.
We spotted willow warblers, more wrens and the swallows returned. Then, this year, a pair of spotted flycatchers, raised a family of (at least) four in the trellis above the front door. It was the perfect vantage point for looking out at the long grass and the flying insects (probably including our honey bees) that abounded there.
One of the parent spotted flycatchers on a favourite perch, the sumach that grows outside the greenhouse.
Two of the flycatcher chicks. This picture was taken the day before they left the nest. They are looking out for their parents returning with some juicy flies. The black pellets sitting on the edge of the nest are the indigestible parts of the insects that the birds regurgitate. These pictures were taken from a distance using a long lens.
I got the greatest pleasure from watching the parent birds gathering and fetching beakfuls of insects to their hungry brood and was rather sad when they eventually left. There will be no more ride on mowers for us for long grass and wildlife are far more interesting than smooth lawns.