How to Create a Wildflower Meadow
How to create a wildflower meadow in the garden?
How to create a wildflower meadow is a question I’m often asked, very happy to answer and indeed encourage! Small things in a garden can have a big impact and there is a growing awareness that by deliberately leaving an area to grow more freely is the best way to help wildlife. As added extra bonus the time spent on the maintenance of more natural gardens is less.
How to create a wildflower meadow from seed?
The best way to create a wildflower garden is from seed. There are two ways to start. Either from scratch by sowing a mix of grass and flower seeds onto bare soil, preferably in the early autumn, or, sow wild-flower seeds in part of your lawn. Perennial wildflowers like a hard life and need impoverished soil low in nutrients. If the soil is too rich the you will get strong leaf growth but fewer flowers, so it’s best to grow a wildflower meadow in an area that hasn’t been heavily cultivated. If you are in a newly build garden you will probably find that your soil is very poor quality and surprisingly this could be ideal! Click here for more ideas on new build gardens.
Making a wildflower meadow from an existing lawn.
If you want to convert part of your existing lawn into a wildflower meadow, pull a fixed-tine rake firmly over the areas to scrape off some of the grass, making shallow bare patches where you can sow the seeds. It’s important not to feed the meadow or let cut grass lie and enrich it. Wildflowers do not like competition from weeds so remove them before sowing anything, dig over the soil and firm it back down before raking it smooth – ready for the seeds. Scatter your chosen mix of seeds by hand. Rake in lightly and water thoroughly. If birds are a problem, put some netting over the soil until they germinate. Make sure the soil remains moist and warm, it’s vital they don’t dry out and amazing just how quickly that can happen after a hot day.
Letting nature take its course
Once you stop mowing the lawn as part of a regular routine, a surprising rage of flowers appears. Many plants traditionally treated as weeds in the lawn – daisies, clover, speedwell and self-heal have pretty little flowers and can be left to flourish. Things that are more invasive, such as dandelions and thistles should be deadheaded after flowering so they don’t spread everywhere.
If you don’t want to convert your whole lawn into a wildlife meadow, how about leaving a fringe of long grass to grow round the edge? Plant a selection of primroses, cowslips, meadow cranesbill, columbine, campion, oxeye daisies to grow in it. They are all easy to cultivate from seed or can be bought as established plants.
Natural grass areas
In a larger area of grass, herbaceous perennials, such as bear’s breeches, Acanthus mollis, the globe thistle, Echinops, or soapwort, Saponaria officinalis, could be grown. Anything that looks natural and imitates nature will look good. Create a gently winding path mown through, to give structure and invite exploration to look at the butterflies and bees that will be attracted. To extend the season, plant natural varieties of bulbs such as daffodils, snowdrops and winter aconites. Autumn crocuses will give colour in September and October, look for the bright blue Crocus speciosus and the lilac Crocus kotchanus.
Seeking help to create a wildflower meadow
Establishing a wildflower meadow on a large scale can be tricky and it may be best to seek professional advice. We have used James Gillies Consultancy for wildflower meadow management for expert help.
When done properly, ornamental wildflower meadows create spectacular colour, particularly in the summer and autumn and make a diverse environment for birds and insects. They are perfect for bringing new life to an unused part of the garden.