Grow Your Own Meadow

Sat, 03/05/2014 - 18:49

Wildflowers are best sown on to bare ground not into grass. Preparing the ground is really important so removing the turf, digging in limestone chippings and horticultural sand will help with rich soils.

You can sow your own meadow with wildflower seed or seedballs as shown above but for a small area, you could start off by pre-sowing and growing in seed trays. Scatter seed sparsely on the surface of the soil in the tray, and when the seedlings have germinated into mini meadows, turn out these out from the seed trays and plant whole into the ground!

You can plant some species e.g. Birdsfoot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus), Harebell (Campanula rotundifolia), Corn Chamomile (Anthemis arvensis) and Wild Pansy (Viola tricolorin hanging baskets, pots or planters because these will tolerate small spaces. 

Try planting wild plug plants among your garden plants, for example Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carota), which will grow beautifully beside your roses and attract ladybirds and lacewings to eat aphids. No need for pesticides with such wonderful wild pest controllers!

Wildflowers can be planted in clusters or drifts as bee pastures, which offer pollinators an intensity of nectar and pollen to gather. Clusters of Forget-me-not (Myosotis arvensis), Cowslip (Primula veris), Musk Mallow (Malva moschata), Meadow Cranesbill (Geranium pratense), Field Poppy (Papaver rhoas), Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus), Lesser Knapweed (Centaurea nigra), Yellow Toadflax (Linaria vulgaris) and Oxeye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare) look lovely for people too!

Good companions to grow with edible crops are Wild Marjoram (Origanum vulgare), Purple Betony (Stachys officinalis), Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) and Wild Red Clover (Trifolium pratense). Red Clover does not have the spreading habit of White Clover (Trifolium repens) so it will not take over the edible bed. According to the Soil Assocation it is a great plant for improving the soil during crop rotation. The Bumblebee Conservation Trust recommend Red Clover to attract more bumblebees to 'buzz pollinate' your tomato flowers.

If you prefer not to go all out for a meadow, a bee pasture or companion planting, think about encouraging a wild lawn with Daisy (Bellis perennis) and Gemander Speedwell (Veronica chamaedrys), covering your fences in flowering Ivy (Hedera helix), Travellers' Joy (Clematis vitalba) and Wild Honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum), and allowing your Privet (Ligustrum vulgare) hedge to flower.
Your garden will become a nature reserve and a paradise for pollinators!


Illustration by Hiromi Suzuki

Text by Paul Richens Head Gardener of the Kings Cross Skip Garden run by Global Generation and Kathryn Lwin

Original article in Lost in London