- Time to Consider
- A spectacle of winter
- Berried treasure
- Bounty all year round
- Bring garden to life
- Caring for a garden's soul
- Cascade of colour
- Cheer in the winter garden
- Fancy a Chinese?
- Herbs for the hot sun
- Jewel of September
- Leafing through salad choices
- Love of our roses
- Magic of meadows
- Nation's favourite
- Nurturing growth
- Planning new dawn
- Pots in the portfolio
- Secrets for the summer
- Signs of spring
- Taste of the season
- The Cape of good tastes
- Turn up the heat
- Upsetting the apple cart
- Consider the wildlife
- Hardy ferns for winter interest
- Magnificent sedums
- Natural Principles
- Old-fashioned roses
- Stripe Action
- The importance of gardens
- The Lady is a champ
Magic of meadows
from The Oxford TimesEstablishing a meadow is probably the hardest thing of all to achieve in a garden. It can take years of effort. Yet it's thoroughly worthwhile because having native wildflowers will sustain and attract wildlife and meadows look so much more interesting than plain, shorn lawn.
The very first thing to do is to home in on your native flora by studying the plants that grow naturally on your soil, in your region.
If you're unsure of your local flora and you have access to the Internet, it's possible to print out a comprehensive list using your postcode via The Natural History Museum's website. Simply type 'Flora for Fauna' into Google or another search engine. Once you have an idea of the plants you want to grow, the next challenge is to find a bona fide supplier of seeds or plug plants.
Try to avoid ordinary seed suppliers. Sadly, their mixes are usually cheap, foreign imports of non-native plants.
The charity Plantlife recommends Landlife Seeds, because they supply home-grown native species. Flora Locale promotes the use and sourcing of British seeds and they produce a list of reputable suppliers. They also run courses for individuals, parish councils and schools who may wish to plant for the future (tel 01488 680 457). They will also offer advice.
The two golden rules when creating a meadow are to never add fertiliser and always collect every blade of grass after mowing. Mowing takes place after the flowers have set seed, often in August or September. You can allow the grass to dry for a couple of days and, if you turn it, it encourages the seeds to disperse.
Once you've collected every bit of debris, tread the seeds in thoroughly. In nature, this trampling would be accomplished by grazing animals.
Winter is an excellent time to make a start on a meadow. Plug plants can be planted into turf in spring, but do make a large hole and keep the plants well watered.
Seeds are definitely more successful, but establishing a meadow from seed is harder work. You will have to remove the grass in autumn and fork over the soil and then hoe out any weed seedlings as they appear.
Create a seed bed and then sow the seeds in early spring. Mixing the seeds with silver sand or sawdust makes it easier to broadcast them evenly.
Rake over thoroughly and firm down the seeds with your feet. Keep the area watered in dry weather.
You will need to mow at least three times in the first year of growth, to a height of about 5cm, remembering to remove the cuttings to keep down the fertility.
In the second year, the meadow should start to flower and you will only need to mow once, after the flowers have set seed. A good meadow takes centuries, but at least we have made a start.
Suppliers:Landlife Seeds (near Liverpool)
tel 0151 7371819
Flower Farms (near Marlborough)
tel 01672 870 782