‘I apologise – that was mean’ Naga Munchetty puts expert on the spot in awkward silence

BBC Breakfast: Naga Munchetty apologises for 'mean' question

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In a discussion about the benefits of allowing grass to grow before getting the lawn mower out in order to help bees and wildlife, Doctor Trevor Dines chatted to BBC Breakfast presenters Naga and Charlie Stayt to advise viewers on changing their gardening habits. But one question from Naga left him stumped as to how to respond, causing the BBC host to apologise.

Speaking from Treborth Botanic Garden in Bangor, Trevor explained that some lawns there are left to grow while others are maintained more strictly.

He said: “This is an initiative by plant life called No Mow May, so we’re encouraging gardeners to put away their mowers for the month of May – put them to bed, leave them in the shed and just let the flowers grow on your lawns.

“Packed full of daisies and dandelions now and then at the end of the month, we ask people to put down a square-metre quadrat – high-tech science here, I’ve got a broom handle and a walking stick and some canes, mark out a one-metre square, count out the number of dandelions, daisies, buttercups, whatever you’ve got in there, send those results into the Plant Life website, we instantly tell you your personal nectar score.

“How many bees those flowers in your lawn can feed.”

“So, you’re not saying ‘Don’t ever mow your lawn’, are you?” Naga elaborated.

“That’s right,” Trevor replied. “That’s the surprising thing with our survey is that we thought completely unmown grass would be the best thing for pollen and nectar but it turns out that with this mowing once a month you get very short plants like white clover – white clover is just fabulous as a nectar producer for insects.

“They duck down beneath the blades of the lawn mower so when you come over and cut off their flowers, they just go, ‘Oh, I’ve got no flowers, I’m going to produce more flowers’, so they produce huge quantities of flowers throughout the year.”

Naga questioned how it’s possible to change peoples’ mindsets, and the expert explained that people need to be okay with having a slightly messier lawn, and added they still “look fabulous” and aren’t neglected.

Noting the sounds of nature in the background, Charlie asked to listen in to the birds that could be heard, adding: “That’s a real tonic isn’t it.”

Trevor agreed and explained that less mowing also means people can enjoy being sat in the garden, listening to the birds.

But this prompted Naga to ask Trevor a question which was beyond his expertise.

“I know you’re obviously really into the lawn,” the presenter began. “But do you know what birds are actually singing?”

“I’m afraid I don’t,” Trevor laughed, seeming surprised by the question. “It’s alright,” Naga replied.

“That’s not your area of expertise – that was mean of me to ask, I apologise.”

“I can tell you every plant in the lawn instead,” Trevor joked.

Moving on, Naga continued: “It’s good news – do you think the actual condition of the lawns will improve, because there’s always that time of year when it’s really hot and you think, ‘Oh it looks scrappy, I’ll mow the lawn’ and then you get the brown patches because it’s too hot – is this going to improve the conditions of lawns?”

Trevor replied: “It really does, absolutely. Last year we had the driest May in 123 years.

“And that had a dramatic impact on daisies and dandelions – dandelions were down 56 percent, daisies were down 40 percent on our lawns by the end of May.

“But leaving them unmown is the best way for them to cope with drought.”

Charlie commented that he loved Trevor’s enthusiasm for plants, adding he would lie down to be connected with nature if he were there, which Trevor then did.

Naga told Trevor he had brought “absolutely joy” to the show and thanked him.

BBC Breakfast airs daily at 6am on BBC One.

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