Week 6 ..
With the recent stunning weather Spring has most definitely sprung and the hedgerows are bursting with swathes of wild flowers such as cow parsley and garlic mustard. The natural combination of tufted grasses and stunning umbrellas or spires of flower are quite breathtaking but this natural look is very difficult to replicate. We are often asked about making wild flower meadows or lawns for people … sadly, in many cases, this is not as easy as throwing wildflower seeds down. Many wildflowers are pioneer plants, they are the first to take advantage of clear patches of earth, or even rubble. They happily thrive in very poor, nutrient deficient soils.
They do not fare so well in cultivated, nutrient rich soils which we gardeners are always striving to achieve. The delicate but hardy wildflowers are out competed by more vigorous plants particularly grasses… If you were to spread wildflower seeds on an established lawn they wouldn’t stand a chance. The best option is to utilise rough ground that’s not been cultivated or to clear all the grass and the decent top soil and then sow the seeds … Maintenance of wild flower areas also needs to be managed in order to allow the flowers to seed before cutting.
Another alternative method, which I have been using in a scrapy patch of ground at the bottom go my garden, is to directly plant established plants into the grass as if it were a border. I have used plants that have out grown their spaces in the beds, they are fast growing and vigorous so will give the grass a run for its money. Persicaria and leucanthemum both have flower heads that are similar to those found in wild flower meadows. Where there are patches of clear soil I am sowing seeds of cow parsley, Anthriscus sylvestris, just to see what happens there … fingers crossed.
Visit the natural wild flower centre for more information www.nwc.org.uk or Nigel Dunnett has done a really useful instagram post about Rewilding Lawns www.nigeldunnett.com