How to grow a meadow

by Jane on June 1, 2010

I have been developing my ‘meadow’ strip for a few years now.  It consists of spring bulbs, grass and various things I have put in as plug plants after mowing in the autumn.  My soil is loamy clay, so plants that survive on sandy ‘starved’ soil such as cornfield annuals won’t flourish here.  I do, however, take the mowing cuttings away so the grass is not enriched any further.

What is flourishing is knapweed, which I started from seed and also some plugs (from Scotts Wildflowers, see knapweed link) and is now spreading.  Likewise the geraniums, or meadow cranesbill as they are commonly known.  Scabious plugs have done OK, and vetch is also lasting though not spreading.  This year I have planted some red campion I grew from seed.  I find that growing native plants from seed is easy; the challenge is to make sure they don’t drown in grass, or in decaying bluebell leaves.  I have tried yellow rattle seeds which haven’t worked, so I am thinking of plugs now, planted in the autumn; yellow rattle is a parasitic plant that keeps grass down.  I have had the bluebells dug out round the campion and that hasn’t been a problem.  Also arriving in this patch has been yarrow, at the edges, and right round the edge, ladies’ smock ie cuckoo flower or cardamine pratensis.  This is a good plant for orange tip butterflies as it’s part of the wild cabbage family like garlic mustard and honesty.  Biennials like honesty and foxgloves are I think better going where they can self-seed in the earth, though I may try honesty too next year, as it’s been there before.

So this is how it goes: first snowdrops in January/February, then daffodils, snowflake flower and primroses, then bluebells, with ladies’ smock round the edge.  Then a pause in May/June, which is where the red campion comes in, together with a bit of cow parsley and one of the peonies which carries on amidst the grass.  Then in summer (July/August/September) there are yarrow, geraniums, knapweed and scabious – a wonderful time and gives my garden another season, given it is so oriented to spring.  I’ll take another photo when the knapweed is in full flower.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Ena Ronayne July 10, 2010 at 9:26 am

super stuff I’m salivating at the thought of all those lovely plants in your wildflower meadow such a pity though you don’t have images to help identify them to others who may not know of these plants / butterflies

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