Growing a Wildflower meadow.
Growing a wild flower meadow.
Firstly patience is the key, this process can take between 4 and 8 years to fully settle down to a native meadow so good preparation and planning is essential from the outset.
Starting to think about how and where you want to grow a meadow you will first need to consider soil type, aspect, dampness and fertility. This will give you a better idea about what species will grow well there. There is no point in putting in seed that will not thrive. Look around locally and see what species are growing near you and look for a mix with those species in as this will give you good starting point for getting it right.
Look at the area you want use: the plan below shows a sample field with potential problems. The darker the colour the more grass will grow and will be less favourable to open meadow flowers and may be better to think about adding margin mix. On steep slopes, especially south facing, the ground can dry out and everything can struggle to grow in heat of summer but usually bounce back quickly for autumn and spring flowers.
High trees not only cast shade which favours other plants, usually found in woodlands, but can also produce a lot of leaves which can smother young plants, enrich the soils and encourage stronger grasses docks and thistles over flowers.
Sowing wild flower seed.
Best time is late August - October. The earlier the better.
Remove and weeds, dig docks and nettles if possible. Mow short as you can, scalping the soil slightly. A strimmer is perfect for this. Sow seeds on the surface rake in lightly and roll (especially in the spring). if you can sow the seeds 10-20 days before mowing then the seeds will be dampened down under the grasses and be ready to germinate when the grass is removed. this is what happen in the wild and with some warm but not too hot weather the seeds will take advantage of the sudden exposure to the sun and germinate. At this stage it is best to keep off the meadow for 6 to 8 weeks and let the seedlings develop, maybe cut again in November before the leaves fall so they can blow off and not get caught in the grass.
Cutting the Meadow
Vary your cutting times: early June or late September. don't be too hasty as the later the cut the more seeds will fall out. The down side of a late cut is that the long grass in September may make it difficult for some seeds to germinate as autumn weather creeps in. also some later flowering plants may benefit from a June cut. such as betony and devils bit scabious. However this will lead to stronger grass growth and would also benefit from a late cut in October too. Be ware that yellow rattle will be effected by this and you may have to reseed if you cut the whole area, leaving a small population of yellow rattle will allow it to spread back into these areas.