What with Wimbledon coming up, coinciding with the annual hose-pipe ban in rain-sodden England, there was an argument on the radio between two gardeners this morning, one of whom hated lawns and the other who loved them.
It made me wonder as to what the British obsession with them is all about, and how on earth (geddit???) it ever came about, so I Googled it to find most of my suspicions were correct.
I suspected that the notion of 'An Englishman's home is his castle' had a lot to do with it, and I guessed rightly. The only inland castles that exist in the USA were either built by wealthy industrialists (or are real ones, shipped over stone by stone from here) or the Disney Corporation, so the dog-day phenomena of Joni's 'Hissing of Summer Lawns' in the wealthy suburbs is more to do with an obsession either caught from too much golf, or a hankering after the Old Country. The proof that weedless lawns are an obsession can be seen in the genuine billboard at the top! The climate of most U.S. states is not suitable to a moss-free swathe of grass, hence Joni's hissing - and Astroturf. A famous U.S. baseball player was once asked which he preferred - Astroturf or grass, and he replied, "I don't know. I've never smoked Astroturf."
In Elizabethan times, back here in old Blighty, most lawns were made from fragrant herbs like Thyme or Camomile and the only person in the whole of the UK to still maintain a large Camomile lawn is the other Elizabeth - our present Queen. That one is tucked away at the back of Buckingham Palace.
During Elizabeth the 1st's reign, pretty much all grass lawns were specifically made to play bowls on - like the famous one used by Sir Francis Drake down there in Devon, as the Spanish Armada sailed up the estuary in popular folklore. Then - in quick succession - two things happened. The playing of bowls was prohibited for the lower classes, and the fortification of private houses by anyone was forbidden under pain of death.
When these two draconian statutes were finally lifted, every man and his wife thought it their God-given right as English citizens to grow a six-foot square patch of grass in front of their newly-fortified, semi-detached, two-bedroomed house in Surbiton.
There you have it - an Englishman's home is his castellated dormitory, and if he wants to rip up the grass outside it and lay down a concrete pad on which to park his Nissan Micra, he damn well will!