I spent a lot of time this past winter with my nose in books, one of the topics being permaculture. It’s a pretty dense topic, and I certainly am no poster-child for it, but I did make a lot of changes in my urban yard this year guided by its principles. One broad concept that intuitively makes sense is that as you abandon a monculture of lawn and the amount and types of life it can provide habitat for, and move towards a polycuture of plants with diverse functions, life thrives. It’s so true. And what’s astonished me the most by far, is the response of insects. I’ve lived here for a few years now, and this year has seen a remarkable explosion of insect numbers and diversity. What’s more, although we have had a myriad of wasps of various types, we’ve had no problems with them bothering us. They’re far too in love with lovage blossom. And bees? They are hardcore into wild thyme blossoms. There’s some type of fly that literally swarms around the wild thyme as well, as they move through my herb bed. My aphid problem on my grapes? Long gone. [thanks predatory whatever-you-are!] There are types of caterpillars, spiders, ants, wasps, flies, moths, and other funky winged insects we’ve never seen before here. And all, seemingly, because of biodiversity.
My crusade against my lawn will have been long fought, and not without its deprecating looks and comments from those who don’t like ‘different’. But life around our little urban yard has evolved quickly, and as I walk around, eating strawberries and the first of the season’s saskatoons and raspberries – from what used to be our front lawn – I’m happy.