A QUESTION I’m asked at this time of year is “Why hasn’t the grass been cut at …… ? It’s an eyesore!” The answer to this is usually that daffodils and other bulbous plants need time to return nutrients from their leaves back to their bulb to store for next year’s bloom, and cutting them down will impact on their future display.

However, I’d really like to challenge the notion that unmown equals unkempt.

A neatly-manicured patch of grass is like a desert to wildlife. With no flowers, there are no pollinating insects that live or feed on them. With no insects there are fewer birds and other creatures in the food web that use them as their food source.

Take the picture on the right. It shows a small area of the beautiful, biodiverse nature area that Havoc has become in recent years. On the left side, the grass has been neatly cut, and is a sterile environment to wildlife. On the right however it has been left to grow. In a few short weeks, flowers such as buttercups, dandelions and Lady’s Smock have emerged, providing food, shelter, and breeding opportunities to insects and other creatures.

Lady’s Smock, also known as Cuckooflower, is essential for the orange-tip butterfly to thrive. It feeds on nectar produced by the plant’s delicate flower (inset left), and in doing so pollinates it. The female lays her eggs on the stem of the flower (inset right), and after it hatches the caterpillar feeds on the plant. In our area, Lady’s Smock is likely to be the only plant that will sustain this species of butterfly, and a similar plant/insect combination applies for many other species.

Further up the food web, the caterpillar and adult butterfly are part of the food source for other animals and insects. Put simply, the more we mow the less wildlife we have.

“But you’re only reducing grass cutting to save money” is also a popular accusation heard of “mowists”.

Yes! It does cost less. But cutting the grass is literally costing the planet. Biodiversity areas aren’t magically created by ceasing all grass-cutting activities. They require careful planning, planting and maintenance to ensure that the species native to our area are able to thrive. Instead of knee-jerk reactions it’s time we started thinking about the consequences of hacking everything down.

Yes, they can take a little time to look their best. But they will make our area even more beautiful.