Nobody on their death bed is going to wish they had mowed the lawn more frequently.

The neighbors were buzzing with excitement over our beautiful lawn until I commenced the seasonal atrocity of mowing.  The neighbors I am referring to are the fat bumblebees and other assorted members of the insect tribe that bobbed and crawled from purple blossom to purple blossom on the ground ivy that carpets much of our yard. It’s a thing of beauty. 

The gang of the genus Bombus, our plump buzzing bumblebee friends, are part of the insect clan that pollinates approximately 1/3 of the fruits and vegetables that we eat. Our society’s lawn maintenance practices threaten their livelihood. 

Most folks refer to the fragrant ground ivy as Creeping Charlie. European immigrants intentionally brought the beloved plant to North America in the 18th and 19th centuries. In Britain and other Old World countries this short herb was also known as runaway robin, ground ivy, or Lizzie-running-up-the-hedge.

For more than 5,000 years this little relative of the mint family has been an important medicinal plant. It is high in Vitamin C and is valued for soothing coughs, colds and headaches. 

So how is it that this plant slid from sainthood to lawn villain? 

Can you say “money?” 

You can never fail to make money if you can convince the public of a lurking monster, something to be very afraid of, and then hail yourself as savior for having the product to defeat the real or perceived fiend. So it is no surprise that big chemical companies like Monsanto, Scotts, or Dow declare this innocent ivy and other lawn companions such as dandelions as “bad.”

Clever marketing convinced lawn owners to buy the chemical panacea needed for a lawn of sameness. A monoculture is not nature’s way. rather than follow nature’s blueprint for the strength in diversity.

When you create a single-species lawn you have to work really hard and spend money to keep it that way. Roughly 80 million Americans have lawns.  According to a national Time Use Survey, American lawn owners spend roughly 40 hours of care on their lawns each summer. That is a full workweek! 

Then there are those who fertilize their lawns so they have to mow even more. Go figure!

If you really want to be the same as everyone else, then be my guest. I’m going to keep company with the mesmerizing buzz of the Bombus clan and gather up some nutritious plants like Creeping Charlie, sheep sorrel, and dandelions from the yard for a salad. That way my lawn pays me.

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