There’s no surer sign of Easter than a gently sloping bank suffused with gorgeously scented primroses. The bank below my orchard is exactly that. It compels me to stop and soak in the beauty of all the little bright lemon clumps carpeting the tussocky grass.

Most gardeners with lawns can also enjoy this spring delight, but only if they treat the grass like the rest of the garden. Environmentally responsible gardeners wouldn’t dream of spraying flower or veg beds with destructive herbicides. They want a bustling garden full of busy birds and humming insects, not an eerily silent one.

So if you want to treat the lawn as part of the garden, not an inert soulless green carpet, don’t consider using lethal “lawn treatments” or employing people to come in and “do the lawn”.

A more relaxed management style allows you to enjoy a vibrant living lawn with its steady succession of flowering plants that offer vital nectar for emerging butterflies, bumblebees and moths. We all need the part of the lawn we use for walking and sitting to be kept short, but we can cut the rest occasionally, not frequently.

This lets grass grow a little and other plants flower. And it’s important to remember that daisies and dandelions are also flowers. Dandelions are an especially important nectar source for bees in March.

Primroses, cowslips, selfheal and many other flowers and bulbs such as snowdrops, winter aconites and crocuses thrive in grass. Many of these early flowering plants are low-growing ground huggers, or die down in late spring, so if you suffer from hayfever, you can do an occasional high cut to stop the grasses flowering.

Believe me, as I demonstrated in a public garden, clearly defined short and long areas of grass do look good and were much commented on. With neat and intentional edging, you have to spend much less time behind a mower.

We are all experiencing much drier spells thanks to climate change and longer grass withstands drought conditions. It looks greener and healthier. And clover always remains green. Since its roots fix nitrogen and act as a natural fertiliser, I can never understand why some people try to obsessively remove this valuable plant.

Long grass and undisturbed vegetation provide important sites for some moths and butterflies to pupate. New research shows that moth species adapted to cooler conditions, like the Garden Tiger Moth, are moving north-westwards to escape droughts and high summer temperatures. If you see one of these striking moths or their woolly bear caterpillars, be especially careful to leave longer, undisturbed grass for them.


Plant of the week

RHODODENDRON ‘CREEPING JENNY’ is a dwarf, evergreen rhododendron. It spreads to make a mound about 80cm high, so is ideal for smaller spaces. The trumpet-shaped flowers are bright red and have an outsize impact. They are also scented.