Wild flower meadow project (January 2021)

Happy New Year everyone.

I was asked the other day “how is your wild flower meadow coming on” which made me realise that an update is long over due. My last update was last April and at that stage I thought things were developing OK.

May 30th

Along side the fence there was a strip about 1.5 metres wide where I had added extra soil to fill a depression in the original sheep field. This was beginning to look promising.

The annual mix that had been added to the seed was beginning to look good together with some perennial wild flowers.
And there was evidence of Yellow Rattle in the grass

June 20th

By mid June this strip was looking great although we could see it was mainly the annuals that were flowering, not quite the wild flower meadow in our dreams.

Looking across the meadow it was clear that the only really successful plant was the original grass. The meadow had sheep on it for many years but I had been told that if I cut the grass really short and scarified the ground before planting the wild flower mix then it should be OK. Clearly the grass was too vigorous and maybe the ground to fertile.

I contacted our local wild flower seed supplier, Naturescape, for advise. They suggested a number of ways forward but they all involved killing off the original grass.

July 6th

The first task was to cut the grass.

The grass prior to cutting.

I had already purchased the mechanical scythe and this was its first outing together with the operator with a very lock down amount of hair. (in the UK lock down hairdressers where closed)!

It made short work of cutting the grass.

Next it was now time to kill off the grass. I do not normally use glyphosate in our garden but needs must. After a couple of weeks the grass had died back and I rotavated the ground to break up the surface layer. This action also encourages weed and grass seed to germinated so after another four weeks I sprayed the glyphosate again.

By now the ground was looking clean and ready for seeding. However, before seeding we decided to plant some more spring bulbs.

The drifts of Narcissus Pheasant Eye had been beautiful earlier in spring and we took the opportunity to plant more.

Another 1000 Narcissus Pheasant Eye, 1500 Snakeshead Fritillaria Meleagris  and 1000 English Bluebells, Hyacinthoides non-scripta all planted over a couple of days!

September 1st

The ground was now ready for seeding. This time on the advice of Naturescape we had a bespoke mix made up. Normally a seed mix for a new meadow would be 20% wild flower seed and 80% grass seed. We had a 50% wild flower seed mix made together with the least vigorous grasses.

October 19th

The ground has been seeded and the autumn leaves are beginning to drop

December 15th

The seeds are beginning to germinate and we are keeping our fingers crossed!

The wild flower seedlings and some grasses

Closer up a good range of wild flower seed has germinated. At this stage we would not expect all the seeds to have germinated. Some need winter frost and others will not appear until April/May.

So far so good. What I have learned is the importance of having a clean seed bed before you start. Unless you are sowing in particularly poor soil then you will probably need to eliminate any existing grasses ec.

We are all hoping 2021 is going to be a better year. Mass vaccination should help us all get back to normal although I fear it will take six months before we can start to relax a little. Thank goodness we have our garden to continue to enjoy.

14 thoughts on “Wild flower meadow project (January 2021)

    • Yes, looking back now I wish I had killed off the grass first. But using chemicals is best avoided and the only other way would be to cover it in black plastic for a couple of years. Unfortunately the rest of my life is too short for that!
      Happy New Year

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Wildflowers are so much prettier in other regions. Ours are chaparral species, so do not compete well with invasive exotic grasses, and then do not bloom for long. You may have heard of the Super Bloom of the Mojave Desert. It is super because the region is normally rather bare. I is brief though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Happy New Year Tony, If we can get it right it will be great and wild flower meadows were very much part of the agriculture in the UK. It would be nice to get a bit of the past back and be great for the biodiversity in our garden

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Shame – it was looking so good. That’s a lot of glyphosate! Could you not have scalped the grass again and then sowed some more yellow rattle (ideal time, as it needs the cold scarification of winter)? Another organic method would have been to take the top layer of turf off (you can hire a machine to make this easier), and stack it up somewhere to rot down into premium topsoil. That would have taken away much of the nutrient and left you with a less fertile seed bed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, it could have been a solution but I took the advice and having lost a year I decided to go the chemical route. Apparently glyphosate does degrades quickly but from a health point of view it is not ideal.

      We will just have to see.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi there,

    You’re garden is looking great! Keep up the good work and we ca all look forward to seeing how much busy life this will bring to your garden!!!

    I am very curious, your clematis that is growing with your sombreiul, is that a cirrhosa? I am about to plant up some tunnels I have created with 20 sombreiul Roses and I would really like some wisley cream clematis in there for winter flowers. Did you plant yours at the same time? I do t want the clematis to come on too strong and take from the sombreiul.

    Please let me know.

    Best regards

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am not sure which photo you have seen. The clematis growing up in the Sombreiul is Clematis ‘Jackmanii’. A couple of things, Sombreiul is quite a slow grower so you want to chose your clematis with that in mind. I would plant the clematis at the same time. Clematis can also take time to get going. Sombreiul does not like rain and the flowers can ‘ball’ so I hope you are relatively dry. When you achieve your tunnel the effect will be fantastic and the scent will almost be too much. Good luck.

      Like

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