When is a weed not a weed? Well, it really depends on who you ask. For many gardeners a weed is a plant that is growing where they don’t want it to, rather more successfully than they would like it to! For others, and although I’m not sure I’d call myself a gardener I include myself in this group, a ‘weed’ is a rather beautiful wild flower. Be it dandelion, daisy, buttercup or clover – the list could go on – I find these little parts of nature a thing of beauty and joy. And in the time of coronavirus, we need all the light in our lives we can get.

And even Government recognises the importance of green space and access to nature as an important way to look after our mental health during lockdown. There are many erudite academic papers which show the same thing, and common experience shows us the calming value of nature.

“Be it from a high class florist, or a dandelion in a crack in the pavement, a flower is a thing of real beauty and a little miracle of nature. And we are not the only ones that think so.”

Plantlife are saying that because many councils are scaling back their verge mowing, this could be the best year for wild flowers for many years; this is expected to have a real knock on benefit in improving the habitat for bees, butterflies and other pollinators, helping their numbers to recover. And, in turn, this will help bats and birds which sit the next level up the food chain. It is amazing how quickly nature can start to recover when we humans stop interfering.

And as many of us live the life of lockdown, and are largely restricted to our homes and gardens, we can make a real difference too. Stuck at home, it may be tempting for many to give that lawn one more mow, and give it another dose of weed and moss killer. But, by letting it grow a little and laying off the chemicals, over time it can change from a pretty barren monoculture to a rich habitat supporting lots of different plant species and all manner of mini-beasts. And an added bonus is that a longer lawn is much more drought tolerant and less likely to need watering.

So, through the art of doing nothing, we can make a place for nature and so called ‘weeds’, and sit back and watch the rest of nature follow, be that bees, bugs, birds or hedgehogs.


Gordon Watts, Sustainability Manager