Like many people, I have always loved wildflowers, but they have their enemies. Some years ago, a man with a backpack containing weedkiller killed a beautiful outcrop of Ivy-Leaved Toadflax growing in a street we often visited.

For them there was no escape, but one way wildflowers avoid destruction is by growing close enough to obstacles which get in the way of motor mowers. There are several outcrops of Veronica in our local churchyard which survive by growing close to headstones – though these lovely little flowers should be welcome anywhere.

Until recently, the grounds of our local hospital was improved by the striking wildflower, Orange Hawkweed.

Today, I find them gone, thanks to someone with a motor mower. You can’t win them all but it would be nice to win some. I am reminded of a poem by Robert Frost.

The Tuft of Flowers

I went to turn the grass once after one
Who mowed it in the dew before the sun.

The dew was gone that made his blade so keen
Before I came to view the levelled scene.

I looked for him behind an isle of trees;
I listened for his whetstone on the breeze.

But he had gone his way, the grass all mown,
And I must be, as he had been,—alone,

‘As all must be,’ I said within my heart,
‘Whether they work together or apart.’

But as I said it, swift there passed me by
On noiseless wing a ‘wildered butterfly,

Seeking with memories grown dim o’er night
Some resting flower of yesterday’s delight.

And once I marked his flight go round and round,
As where some flower lay withering on the ground.

And then he flew as far as eye could see,
And then on tremulous wing came back to me.

I thought of questions that have no reply,
And would have turned to toss the grass to dry;

But he turned first, and led my eye to look
At a tall tuft of flowers beside a brook,

A leaping tongue of bloom the scythe had spared
Beside a reedy brook the scythe had bared.

I left my place to know them by their name,
Finding them butterfly weed when I came.

The mower in the dew had loved them thus,
By leaving them to flourish, not for us,

Nor yet to draw one thought of ours to him.
But from sheer morning gladness at the brim.

The butterfly and I had lit upon,
Nevertheless, a message from the dawn,

That made me hear the wakening birds around,
And hear his long scythe whispering to the ground,

And feel a spirit kindred to my own;
So that henceforth I worked no more alone;

But glad with him, I worked as with his aid,
And weary, sought at noon with him the shade;

And dreaming, as it were, held brotherly speech
With one whose thought I had not hoped to reach.

‘Men work together,’ I told him from the heart,
‘Whether they work together or apart.’

Technology and nature

But for technology I  wouldn’t be posting this now, but nature will win the end.

Three years ago I installed solar panels, not on the roof but in the garden. Cleaning panels on the roof can be difficult, and if anything goes wrong with the  roof itself – right under your solar array – well, that can be quite a challenge. What are you supposed to do, remove them to fix the leak? You may well have to do just that.

But, and there is always a ‘but’, the location for the panels coincided with the best patch of Veronica anywhere in the garden, and I was very reluctant to cover these wonders of nature with the works of man.

Veronica grows wild. There are several species, of course, but the one native to us grows close to the ground and produces beautiful, tiny blue flowers. We have several outbreaks. I visit them daily and never let the mower cut them down. I am reminded of Robert Frost’s poem, The Tuft of Flowers, where Frost realised a man with a scythe had done exactly that, left the flowers to bloom.



Veronica (Photo credit: hopeful<3 (ill/off))

Three years went by and I missed them every April and May but behold, lo, they have successfully fought their way out from under the consoles the panels are mounted on! And when you consider that the consoles are full of gravel and exceptionally heavy, you have to wonder at that. How did they do it, they are so small and delicate? I have no idea, but they did.



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