As I have mentioned previously, our neighbour to the east is the local authority.
There is an area of cultivated grass in which are a number of decorative trees, forming an attractive feature for all the local residents and one which is much favoured by our dog-owning neighbours who, I hasten to add, are meticulous about cleaning up after their pets. At very regular intervals, a local authority gardener turns up with his ride-on mower to cut the grass; and a pretty god job he makes of it, too, leaving it neat and tidy, cut short but not scalped. At least once a year, too, the edges are treated with weedkiller to keep them passably tidy; and, while I would much prefer them neatly trimmed each time the grass is cut, I cannot argue with the decision to use long-lasting weedkiller in these straitened financial times. I just wish it was not deemed necessary to add another couple of inches to the killed verge every year, presumably to prove that the work has been done. Surely that is not actually necessary?
However, unless the work is done at dead of night, I think that the cut grass is never collected, the area treated with selective weedkiller or lawn fertiliser applied. Yet it seems none-the-worse for this neglect, while I religiously collect all the grass clippings, faithfully endeavour to eliminate unwanted weeds which seem to be intent on spreading at any and every time of the year and spend good money on lawn feeds in a bid to keep the grass looking passably green and healthy. Come a few hot, dry, sunny days … I wish! … and, while my grass is browning and looking less-than-healthy, the local authority’s grass on the other side of the fence seems to be thriving on the warmth, soaking up the sunshine yet wholly avoiding sunburn. At least, such has been the case in those recent summers when we have actually enjoyed a few hot, dry, sunny days.
Similarly, come a succession of wet days, while my grass looks, feels and is soggy and spongy, the grass on the other side of the fence soaks up the rain and stays firm and healthy. Not for it the moss which seems to spread even as I watch, nor the transformation from pleasant walking surface to squelchy, squishy jelly. It all seems so unfair!
Now I have not troubled to analyse the many species of common weeds which have established a toe-hold in the local authority grass: but I am pretty certain that many of the common lawn weeds are in there somewhere … oxalis, couch grass, yarrow, hawkweed, lesser yellow trefoil, chickweed, speedwell and the odd dandelion. But they seem content to maintain a presence without ever threatening to take over and oust the cultivated grasses which form by far the greater proportion of the assorted plantings; while in my ‘lawn’, the appearance of a small clump of yellow trefoil is a warning sign that an invasion of this weed is imminent; one dandelion presages many more; and mosses are an ever-present threat to the wellbeing of the grasses … and other weeds, for that matter.
Thank goodness that … to my surprise … daisies and buttercups don’t want to establish themselves among the local authority’s grass; for these weeds would undoubtedly display a preference for my area of jocularly-entitled ‘lawn’ or for the area more accurately described as the drying green. But, as I dutifully attend to the task of mowing my areas of grass, I do look enviously to the east and to the sward spreading luxuriantly beneath the leafy canopies of the local authority trees; and I do sometimes pause in my self-imposed mowing task to allow myself a moaning moment in which I give voice to that age-old belief that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence!