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Don’t despise monoculture

bédébédé Posts: 2,977
edited December 2022 in Plants

“Nothing exceeds like excess” 

In farming monoculture has received a bad press. But Nature if it finds things to its liking, goes for it in a big way.   

Winter is the time for planning.  Holidays, if that is your thing, but your garden also. I get inspiration for my garden from nature, and here are a few ideas: 

February (January in 2022) - snowdrops.


You can be a galanthophile and collect different varieties, but I would recommend that you spend your money on a big patch of the cheapest simple  single (or perhaps the almost as cheap common double).   

There are lots of gardens and wild areas where you can view snowdrops, from Cambo estate, Fife,  to the plant centre on the Waitrose estate in Hampshire.  But below is a corner of my garden.  (The Crocus tomasinianum in the pic is a very fast spreader too)

 March – daffodils. 

The wild ones are the most delicate.  The garden when I moved to it had a patch of daffodils of the usual big and clumsy bold yellow types With wind and rain they collapse, with frost they droop and the slugs get them.   I keep them for cutting.  I have not (yet) succeeded with the wild Lenten Lilies after several attempts, gifts and purchases.  I settle for “Topolino” as a good wild-looking cultivar.

This pic is Dorothy Wordsworth's orignal "host", Ullswater. 

April – cowslips. 

This pic is from the Sheepleas area of Surrey. There are also good stands near Studland on the Dorset downs and Polly Joke, Cornwall.  My orignal plant was a rescue, uprooted in sandhills by rabbits &or /sheep.  It was dry and nearly dead, so no conscience.  It survived and is spreading from seeds, 

May – bluebells. 

see my pic in the thread : weeding bluebells. 

Some regard them as weeds.  Mine are pure Scilla hyacintha and locals.  My neighbour has some Spanish bluebells and some have spread to my garden, plus a small patch of hybrids.  I leave these but keep a close watch and never let them ripen seeds.  We might have to rely on these if global warming continues,


May – fritillaries.


North Meadow, Cricklade,  is worth a journey.  

I have been there several times, once about June to see whether Lily Beetle was eating them, but no sign of any.  One advantage of monoculture is that it may encourage predators as well as pest.  I confess to a lack of success in naturalising fritillaries in a silty-clay part of the garden that should be suitable; the roe deer eat the flower heads. 

In June, the predominant flower at North Meadow is dandelion.  I am not recommending this, but it would be OK in a mixed meadow.

This pic is not my garden, noe my taking, just pulled off the internet.

June - wild garlics or ransoms.

 Surrey Hills, my pic but not my garden.

Edible as well as decorative.  If you don't like the smell, dont' walk on it, and try to keep animals off it.


 location: Surrey Hills, England, ex-woodland acidic sand.
"Have nothing in your garden that you don't know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."


  • LoxleyLoxley Posts: 5,405
    These are certainly not monocultures. These are species that exploit a narrow window of time where they can get their flowering done with, before tree canopies close or meadow grasses crowd them out. This allows them to coexist with a large number of other species, which flower at different times or emerge later.
  • My thought exactly, @Loxley.  Lovely photos though, @bédé.   :)
    Since 2019 I've lived in east Clare, in the west of Ireland.
  • punkdocpunkdoc Posts: 14,354
    What you have shown is a very bio diverse landscape, not a mono culture.
    How can you lie there and think of England
    When you don't even know who's in the team

    S.Yorkshire/Derbyshire border
  • NollieNollie Posts: 7,324
    Well, yes monoculture is perhaps the wrong word but I appreciate the sentiment of exuberant excess and such beautiful photos, so thank you for those bédé.
    Mountainous Northern Catalunya, Spain. Hot summers, cold winters.
  • bédébédé Posts: 2,977
    edited December 2022
    Let's not get too pedantic about one word. 

    OED. monoculture |ˈmɒnə(ʊ)kʌltʃə| noun [mass noun] the cultivation of a single crop in a given area.

    The above is the sense I meant.  Note "cultivation" underlined.  

    I did think about inventing my own word, "oligoculture".  "Paucoculture I rejected quickly as I abhor Latin-Greek hybrids.  Neither would have helped with easy reader understanding.

    Nollie:  Do you have any good example from Spain? 

     I remember Gladiolus byzantinianus (sorry, byzantinus) once as a wheatfield weed near Girona.  Does the Spanish bluebell (Hyacinthoides hispanica) form carpets in Spain?


     location: Surrey Hills, England, ex-woodland acidic sand.
    "Have nothing in your garden that you don't know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."
  • MarlorenaMarlorena Posts: 8,346
    ..this is monoculture.. 

    East Anglia, England
  • NollieNollie Posts: 7,324
    Well it’s not monoculture, bédé, but the evergreen oak (quercus ilex) woodlands surrounding my home certainly appear so - very little emerges from under that. The mixed deciduous trees and hazel groves along the nearby river are more fertile hunting grounds. They are first carpeted in white with anemone nemorosa, which then gives way to a yellow swathes of anemone ranunculoides then interspersed with lilac and purple highlights such as hepatica, vinva major etc. Sorry, no photos! Bluebells are not present in my north-eastern corner of Spain, I think they are common in the north-west. I have never actually seen a Spanish bluebell in my 17 years of living here!
    Mountainous Northern Catalunya, Spain. Hot summers, cold winters.
  • didywdidyw Posts: 3,199
    Monoculture, as we understand it in relation to farming, is where a single crop is grown year after year, depleting the soil - resulting in high use of artificial fertilisers and building up pests that attack that particular crop as, with no diversity those pests do not have any natural predators so pesticides have to be used.
    But you have shown us some lovely pictures of drifts of different flowers, so thank you for that, I enjoyed looking at them.
    Gardening in East Suffolk on dry sandy soil.
  • The stunning beauty of the plants in the photos exceed any word that we as humans can use to describe them.
    Building a garden is very personal. It's not quite the same as installing a boiler.
    James Alexander Sinclair 
  • WAMSWAMS Posts: 1,831
    Those flowers do look really beautiful in a field or woodland-type setting. I would find it boring to just have one type of plant in bloom in my small urban garden, though. There are too many plants I like and want to grow.
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