Future Gardens and Butterfly World

by James Alexander-Sinclair

Every verge, bank and fence line is now alive with colour. And where flowers grow, wildlife follows and there are huge numbers of happily buzzing bees and flighty butterflies...

Meadow plantsWho said gardening wasn't easy? Okay, maybe some parts aren't that simple - grafting, propagation, weeding on cliffs, getting rid of slugs and innumerable other things but some aspects of gardens are unbelievably straightforward.

Look at this picture. How difficult was that? Looks very hard but let me talk you through the process, step by step:

1. Buy seeds

2. Disturb ground.

3. Sow Seeds

3. Go back inside.

4. Wait. (There is an option of pouring oneself a cool something at this point in the proceedings)

5. Go outside and admire.

Nothing terribly complicated and yet the effect is extraordinarily wonderful.

This meadow is, admittedly on the big scale and has been planted by garden designer Ivan Hicks in the ground surrounding Butterfly World and Future Gardens. When I first visited in June, the approach to the site was a bit bleak - even the organisers described it as looking a bit like Helmand Province - but the transformation has been nothing short of spectacular. Every verge, bank and fence line is now alive with colour. And where flowers grow, wildlife follows and there are huge numbers of happily buzzing bees and flighty butterflies all over the place.

Ivan has sown a huge range of flowers (about 65 species) varying from sky blue cornflowers, to custard coloured daisies (Layia platyglossa), candy pink campion, mallows, coreopsis, gypsophila, corncockles and grinning sunflowers. My favourite is probably the little Linaria reticulata (you can see its little magenta and orange flowers in this picture). It is a very simple way of filling a gap - maybe while you are waiting for either inspiration or time to do something more permanent.

It is a fantastic sight, one that you will not see on such a scale anywhere else. There is another wave of flower to come as the summer continues.

The Future Gardens Show is near St Albans in Hertfordshire and is open until October. For a taster of what is there look here. Admission details here.

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Talkback: Future Gardens and Butterfly World
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Gardeners' World Web User 20/08/2009 at 14:56

Easy gardening. I agee with your sentiment. In practice it's not so simple to keep on top of. Note the story on bindweed! what I have found is less is more, get some good landscaping done, plantex or similar to keep the weeds down, find some easy to maintain high impact plants and the accessorize!! I found some great stuff at www.gardenloverz.co.uk.

Gardeners' World Web User 10/09/2009 at 21:07

I think that the British town and countryside would benefit if the railway companies were to sow wild flower seeds on the banks so that bees and butterflies have a continuous nectar bar through out the country.

Gardeners' World Web User 14/09/2009 at 10:20

Susan16pen: I may have been a bit over simple. By disturb ground I mean that you should remove grass, perennial weeds etc. After that it really is that simple. Kaycurtis: You are right of course. There is a pretty vigorous Buddleia population beside railway lines.They also provide good cover for all sorts of scuttling mammals. It would be quite an expensive option to seed all the embankments.

Gardeners' World Web User 21/10/2009 at 21:44

Stunning and relatively straightforward: http://www.habitataid.co.uk/acatalog/Meadow_Planting_Guide.html

Gardeners' World Web User 28/11/2011 at 18:39

These all look vey pretty but can I actually do this in a patch of my gaden? Ithought some care ful preparing of ground was needed and what ? Ruth