Whatever size your garden is, wildflowers are a huge benefit and you can make a native wildflower meadow in a couple of metres of space if you want to. Sometimes people worry that wildflowers only look good for a few months in the summer, but if your space allows, one of the best ways of making it look well looked after is to mow very neat paths through it and around it.
The benefits are brilliant for the wildlife and for you. Exchange all that grass-mowing time for a once-a-year trim and you can spend all those hours enjoying the amazing butterflies, hoverflies, and bees feasting on your patch.
Wiggly Wigglers’ Wildflowers in Pots are perfect to give your wildflower patch a great kickstart, they’re cheaper than wildflower turf, larger than plug plants and grow quicker than wildflower seed. Add these more mature plants to your borders or into your grass or meadow especially when you want to feature a particular plant.
Getting the planting right
If you are considering creating a native wildflower meadow you will need a sunny area where grass grows thinly and the soil is poor. The best wild meadows are sheep-grazed downlands on impoverished turf. Trying to create a meadow from an existing modern close-cut and fertilised lawn will need a lot of preparation, but it can be done by scarifying it and removing all the clippings as these would add unwanted nitrogen to the ground. All coarse perennial weeds need to be removed before you start. If too many nettles, docks and thistles dominate, they may take over and it is difficult to weed a newly sown wildflower meadow. Don’t expect much from new ground in the first year, but poppies and cornflowers are good species for first-year pleasure.
Yellow Rattle is a good plant to introduce at an early stage as they are semi-parasitic on grassroots and in themselves a very pretty flower and typical of hay meadows. Yellow rattle will reduce grass growth and help create a more ‘open’ sward, which in turn means more species of wildflower can be accommodated.
A native wildflower meadow should not be cut until the seeds of the flowers have ripened, which will probably be in early August and will then need a second cut before winter. All the mowings must be carted away.
Native Wildflower Species to Consider (although the pack is a lucky dip)
- Oxeye daisy. Loves well-drained grassland with neutral soil. It is quite at home in pastureland and meadows which are cut or moderately grazed. It can often colonize open ground if left to its natural devices and is particularly rampant in fertile soil.
- White Campion. It tolerates full sun and sandy, drought-prone soils but produces the best leaf colour in dry soil. Suitable for exposed coastal planting, this is a superb plant for a sunny border.
- Red Campion. A splash of pink found on many a roadside verge in late spring and summer. Its flowers open during daylight to attract butterflies and bees.
- Scabious species (Small, Field and Devils-bit). All members of the Teasel family. Excellent butterfly-attracting plants. The Devils-bit Scabious, which prefers damper ground to its relatives, is the main food plant of the rare Marsh Fritillary butterfly.
- Toadflax. A member of the Antirrhinum (Snapdragon), an important nectar source for large bees.
- Also, consider Sweet Violet; Primrose; Betony; Ragged Robin; Foxglove; Greater Knapweed; Hemp Agrimony and Yellow Rattle (easily grown from seed).
- Basil, Thyme, Strawberry, Oxalis and Sorrel all have flowers or fruit for garden wildlife………and sometimes some culinary benefit for their human owners.
Marshy Areas or Ponds
- Water Avens; Water Forget-me-not; Marsh Marigold and Meadowsweet are all ones to consider in those damp boggy places.
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