Look Closely

For some reason that I cannot appreciate, people aspire to a lawn that looks like this:

Don’t get me wrong, this grass is lovely. It’s a gorgeous green, and feels good when I walk barefoot. I’ve got a whole swath of the backyard that looks like this. But it gets boring, don’t you think? I like to see some clover, too (and dog paws.) The clover blooms are good for the bees that I want to pollinate my garden, and the darker green adds an undertone to the lawn.

It’s hard to keep a lawn evenly green. These things appear:

I’d rather not have dandelions in the lawn, not because of the yellow flowers, which are quite pretty, but because the leaves muscle out everything else around them, and later in the summer look so ugly.

Of course, not all areas of the yard can support lush green grass. I could artificially boost the growth with pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. But I don’t. I put up with this:

Because not much further off, at the margins of the lawn is this:

moss and ladyslippers – about as perfect a lawn as I can imagine.


  1. Now that’s MY kinda lawn! Love this Terry- thanks for sharing! I personally don’t GET the obsession America has w/lawns! Not enough time now for a really good rant … but stay tuned… I think I feel one coming on soon! LOL!

    • Lisa- A few years ago a new resident got on the Board of Health and tried to pass regs that would have made animal keeping impossible – even a backyard bunny. She was concerned about the town’s well water and manure. Many of us pointed out that one person who uses ChemLawn and ilk put far more nasty things on the ground – near wells, than do those of us with a few chickens. There was enough of an outcry that the regs never passed. (We already have laws on the books about manure piles not being near wells!)

  2. Terry — Ladyslippers are such a treasure. And without the moss and the oaks above it, Ladyslippers couldn’t grow. Bravo for embracing your weeds!

    • We love them – but one of these years are hoping to see the elusive yellow ladyslipper in our woodlands!

  3. Lovely wild flowers Terry. Do you know the Gerard Manley Hopkins poem that ends;

    What would the world be, once bereft
    Of wet and of wilderness? Let them be left,
    O let them be left, wildness and wet;
    Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.

    My single orchid isn’t quite up yet, but we’re getting there…

  4. Wendy—AMEN! I know I love my lawn but I love my clover, my wildflowers and my weed flowers. My hens love the clover too. Even my Chihuahua loves the clover—she loves to use it as a cool place to rest on a very hot day.

  5. It’s funny that you posted this about your lawn, cause I almost commented on how luscious the clover looked in your last post about the odd shaped egg! My girls love the clover that grows in the yard….. someday when I have my own yard, I will plant them their very own patch of their favorite greens, weeds, etc.

    • Hi Linda, Colleen and Jen – the clover just appears – but I’m a firm believer in over-seeding to control weeds, and I make sure that I get a grass seed mix that includes clover. In a month, when it blossoms, it will be a field of white with buzzing bees. I’ll be sure to post a pic.

  6. AHHH!!!! I feel so much better about my less than perfect lawn! Especially the nice brown dust holes the girls make for their dust baths! Love the ladyslippers! Do they just pop up like weeds? Amazing and gorgeous!

    • Ladyslippers are quite fussy and ephemeral. They’ll pop up in one place for a few years, then disappear. They need an exact microclimate of high shade, and woodlands but not brush. They need all sorts of microcosms under the soil to work in concert with. They’re just about impossible to transplant. Short season, too. They’ll be gone in a week or so.

  7. How fondly I remember the stands of ladyslippers in the woods around the house on Wolf Rock. Some years they were very prolific and others practically non-existent. And the blueberries, both high and low bush. But we never had lady slippers in or even close to the lawn – such as it was.
    Here in NC, people are paranoic about perfect lawns and edging. I guess I lived too long in Carlisle. I’m quite happy if it’s mostly green. I whack it down periodically but there’s not much grass out there. Any topsoil long since washed away [into the street and down the drain, probably] and not much will grow in the clay. At least for me!! Too long a New Englander!! I love to visit via your website. THANK YOU!!!

  8. I have one slipper(cypripedium) that I planted outside and it is now emerging. I hope for a first bloom. I also have an orchid greenhouse that is full of orchids, but these ones would not survive the cold outside the greenhouse.
    I love my greenhouse and my chickens.

  9. I’ve never had a greenhouse, and manage to kill most every houseplant. I’m impressed that you can keep those orchids alive! The Montreal Botanical Garden has a greenhouse devoted to orchids. Stunning! Try to go.

  10. I can go along with all of it except the dandelions. They erk my goat. (My phrase…cross of erks me and gets my goat) Then those whitish puffs appear if you don’t mow fast enough. Then the dandelions are everywhere! I don’t mind the clover. I wish the pink ladyslippers were growing all over MY yard!

  11. I loved this post. It is so true that America has an obsession with green lawns…something that is impossible to maintain without pesticides and other harmful substances.

    I loved your post though. It was so lovely and simplictic and really made my day.