Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Clover

I've just ordered clover seed for Mr. I's lawnette.
I can almost always find a four leaf clover if I need one
Dear readers, you know many things about my garden philosophy, so, you may have been surprised when I agreed to add the lawnette. (Pay No Attention...the full story) That was for my dear Mr I. In all the years I've been gardening, he's only requested one thing~ "a patch of green" and I agreed. I do like the restful effect that it has on my otherwise busy natural garden. But, after two years of decidedly nonlawn care, we have concluded , that it's time to seed the brown patches with Trifolium repens, Western Daisy and a few other low growing beauties.
Western Daisy and other wildflowers in our son's former play area
Our patch of green will move from a monoculture to a polyculture. It will be alive with bees and other critters.
Newly sodded monoculture Winter 2009
A polyculture lawn will be perfect for the Garden of Benign Neglect. We'll have the green expanse that Mr I wants, while, taking care of my need to be a smart gardener.


Clover just makes sense.
  • Does not need supplemental watering
  • green all summer
  • requires very little mowing
  • needs no fertilizer
  • grows in poor soil
  • feels great on the tootsies
But, more importantly,

It's wildlife friendly.

  • Larval host to butterflies
  • Provides nectar to butterflies
  • Seeds for some game and songbirds
  • Attractive to honeybees.
xxoogail

To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,
One clover, and a bee.
And revery.
The revery alone will do,
If bees are few.
Emily Dickinson

This post was written by Gail Eichelberger for my blog Clay and Limestone Copyright 2011. Please contact me for permission to copy, reproduce, scrape, etc.

40 comments:

  1. Great post Gail! Living in a part of the rural area which has been grazed but never farmed, I have lots of clover in my grass along with other "weeds." I don't worry to much about these because they help the bees. Even the henbit has pretty purple flowers which look like bunnies up close. (It is henbit isn't it?) Happy Frosty Day my friend. Looking forward to spring.~~Dee

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  2. Gail: I love clover. The first grass seed mixtures always contained clover. In the quest for uniformity, it was removed. I think a lawn with clover is a beautiful thing in addition to supplying lawn with much of its nitrogen needs. Just bee careful with the bare feet. :)

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  3. Great article, Gail. Even though I'm in favor of reducing lawn, I think we all need a place that feels good on our tootsies!

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  4. After we had work done on our house foundation, the area had to be regraded and I needed to reseed a lawn. I did buy some lawn seed, but also a big bag of clover. The clover continues to thrive. I don't know if you can call it a 'lawn', it certainly isn't fine turf, but it is green. My husband occasionally, not regularly, mows it. I'm in favor of benign neglect. I had a neighbor once who thought it was the foundation of my parenting philosophy.

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  5. Gail, wow quite the change and what a great example you are setting for gardeners and what an incredible change for the environment around you!!!

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  6. Gail, You're gonna love that clover. Last year I ordered a pound of white clover and overseeded my tired lawn and down the middle of the gravel driveway - even in drought conditions everything looked great.

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  7. The horses and the bees love clover. I've been wanting to put wildflowers and early bulbs in our lawn, rather than just grass. The more variety the better!

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  8. Gail thanks for another informative post, the garden I inherited was over crowded in very overgrown grass and roots and spagnum moss, where I have eventually reached the good earth clover white and pink are among the wild flowers that are coming through, I had hoped the clover would get rid of the grass but I see it won't as they live side by side, I have been following your links to back post, thanks it's been interesting seeing the problems you have over come, makes me feel better about mine and gives me hope that I might get there! Frances

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  9. I am amazed that you have to plant clover. Here it just arrives. I can never find a 4-leaf clover though. I hope you get some seed for them in your mix. I love to see those little white heads peeking up in the lawn.

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  10. I once took a class that suggested that a garden should include 2/3rds lawn to 1/3 garden (maybe my measurements are slightly off but it was something similar). The idea being that your eyes become too frazzled otherwise looking at too many things and the green expanse provides a nice rest. I think I would aim for more garden than lawn such as you have done but I do like the idea of some restful green.

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  11. We are aiming at a restful expanse of water. In that glaring hot black hole he is busy relining ;~)
    If you can always find a four leaved clover, then your garden is saying THANKS!

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  12. Dear Gail, I love this post and the quote from Emily! Your toes look comfy in the green! How I wish I could walk outside that way . . . deer ticks have made it impossible. Well sometimes I cheat . . . just very watchful, for I do not want to step on honeybees or attract the tiny black critters. Your idea of clover is perfect for all the reasons you note. Mine have small white flowers that look lovely and are always visited by bees and butterflies. My bird houses look pretty sad next to your collection! I am nearly a slum landlord! You have inspired me to look for some new ones. Your son's former play area is charming with all the daisies!

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  13. Gail,

    I buy clover (red and/ or white) at a local country garden center by the pound. We have scattered patches of it. Hard to establish here with the very dry summers here.

    Hope it grows well and the deer are not drawn in by it too close to the gardens.

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  14. Gailie, Lee intends to plant clover this spring too! As we work on reducing the size of our lawn, we're also going to make it less of a hassle to maintain amid the pine trees, sandy soil and short growing season up here.

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  15. Clover is one of those plants I have loved since childhood. A lawn of clover sounds beautiful and romantic, something for you and Mr I to both enjoy, along with the bees!

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  16. Clover sounds wonderful! The property adjacent to ours has a large patch of clover and it is lovely to walk through.

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  17. It seems like a practical solution. Just don't walk barefoot when there are bees on it! I might have to consider this for my back lawn that is 10 feet by 15. Small but necessary.

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  18. An excellent compromise! Clover is too often underrated.

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  19. We have white clover in our little lawnettes, and in the shade of Norway maples, too. They don't make as many pretty flowers but I love their leaves. In sun, you'll get the lovely clover fragrance, too. Sometimes I pick a clover in bloom and just inhale all the sweetness.

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  20. Hi,
    sounds like a great idea and just the thing for the - many - brown patches in our lawnette :-) - a small word of warning - last summer I walked over a lawn with lots of clover, thought this looks great and took my sandals off, only to step on one of those many bees!! End of the bee and some loud words by me.

    Helen

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  21. Wonderful! I wish more people would plant clover. We get several requests for it at the garden center every year. Unfotunately they are outnumbered by the people seeking to get rid of it, but this gives me an opportunity to tell them why they shouldn't.

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  22. Gail, the clover will be perfect for your lawnette! We have quite a bit of volunteer clover growing in the back yard grass--the bees love it! Thanks for including Emily's poem--it's one of my favorites.

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  23. I too have an untreated lawn and the clover has naturalized itself quite nicely (less mowing!). I also have some brown spots as well and love the idea of seeding in some daisies for some more diversity. Also, as some of the readers pointed out, beware the bees with bare feet! I have two little ones and when the white flowers begin blooming I try to make sure they wear socks and shoes (the bees will easily get caught in the typical sandal -OUCH! Recently, I've been interested in sedges and I'm considering reducing my lawn by incorporating masses of sedges and perhaps some fescues.

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  24. I too have an untreated lawn and the clover has naturalized itself quite nicely (less mowing!). I also have some brown spots as well and love the idea of seeding in some daisies for some more diversity. Also, as some of the readers pointed out, beware the bees with bare feet! I have two little ones and when the white flowers begin blooming I try to make sure they wear socks and shoes (the bees will easily get caught in the typical sandal -OUCH! Recently, I've been interested in sedges and I'm considering reducing my lawn by incorporating masses of sedges and perhaps some fescues.

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  25. I absolutely love the flowers growing in your son's former play area. How lovely. So much more to my taste then plain grass...I will be working on creating a wildflower meadow in my front "lawn" area. Your garden is an inspiration.

    Thanks.

    Patricia

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  26. True indeed, the bees do love clover. I made the mistake of planting Crimson Clover here though, and am now trying to eradicate it, as it tends to want to escape its boundaries. It's a shame it's so pretty in bloom though, and the bees go just bonkers for it!

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  27. Gail,
    I love the patch of Western Daisies. I think the clover is a lovely idea. Your birdhouses are beautiful. I am looking forward to naturalizing some daffodils and snowdrops in the coming years. I look forward to seeing your new patch of green.

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  28. Hi,

    Great news that you're planting Clover!
    This past summer our self-seeded clover really began to take over - beware! But the number of Bees on it at any one time was amazing and I would never be without it. An area of 2m squared had around 20 bees at any one time and attracted probably around 4/5 species including a Blue Mason Bee, which I have never seen nor heard of before - it's tiny and at first I thought it was a fly.

    Here's a post I made on the beauty of clover
    http://gwirrel.blogspot.com/2010/06/clover-and-bees.html

    I am sure you will love having the clover, I know I certainly do.

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  29. That's wonderful Gail. Your Mr. I should have a talk with my Lawn Man. ;)

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  30. You're right on all counts, of course, Gail! However, don't walk barefoot out there! Just sayin'

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  31. Great post, Gail, and I'm so glad to have visited you on this cold and windy morning. Am scheming and dreaming on what to do with the back area of our property and clover might be just the ticket.

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  32. Clover is great, we have it all over here but it doesn't stay green in the summer. You have a lot more shade than we do so it may work out for you but it dies back here then reemerges in the fall-spring. It may leave brown spots where it was growing during the dry times but it is great for the environment as a whole. I think our summers may just be too hot for it to thrive then.

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  33. Another great idea for your garden! Clover is so lush and beautiful -- and buzzes with life.

    Freda

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  34. My grass is full of clover and the bees are happy and busy. Grass seed mixes used to contain clover. Because it fixes nitrogen in its roots, it makes the surrounding soil healthier. Even during our droughts, the clover looks great! :o)

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  35. I would find it hard to let clover grow in my front garden but in my back garden I am thinking of just letting it take over. The benefits to the wildlife and free fertilizer for the lawn make it seem very worthwhile for me.

    We're ok here thanks Gail. River is back to it's normal levels and I'm hoping to blog soon. We ended up with swine flu in the house this week.

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  36. Clover is one plant that doesn't seem to pop up in my small patches of lawn. Hmmmmm ....

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  37. I am so interested in the polyculture lawn idea. This is something that I'm determined to accomplish this spring. Please keep us posted on yours!

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Let us be grateful to people who make us happy;
they are the charming gardeners
who make our souls blossom.


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