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Three ways to create a mini-meadow

A wildflower meadow is a beautiful addition to your garden and needn't take up a lot of space. An annual meadow will give you a one-off display in summer, while a perennial meadow will provide colour from year to year. You can create the meadow look in your garden by three main methods.


Wildflower turf

Use wildflower turf

If the area you want to cover is small, a pre-grown wildflower mat is a good option. Pre-grown wildlflower mats are essentially wildflower turf, which is grown with a mat backing, to make it easier to lift, move and lay.

Making a meadow this way can be done at almost any time of year, although it's trickier and more expensive to lift, ship and lay a meadow that's in flower, so spring and autumn are the best times.

Wildflower plug

Use plug plants

Wildflower plug plants can be popped straight into an existing lawn. It helps if the lawn is quite poor in the first place, with plenty of 'weeds' such as speedwell, clover, self-heal, plantain and bird's-foot trefoil. These will become part of your new meadow.

A lawn full of 'weeds', indicates that the soil beneath isn't too rich, which will suit the wildflowers and grasses well.

You can plant wildflower plugs at almost any time of year, as long as the plugs are available and the ground is neither waterlogged, bone dry or frozen solid. If you want to turn a small front lawn into a meadow, or want to add wildflowers to an area of bulbs naturalised in grass, plugs are perfect. They're usually sold in multipacks.

Sow from seed

Grow from seed

Creating a meadow from seed is the most cost-effective method and is equally suited to annual and perennial meadows. To prepare the soil for sowing, simply fork it over and rake to a fine tilth.

However, in a reversal of normal gardening process, you should not improve or feed it with compost. You don't want a rich soil, as this encourages coarse grasses and broad-leaf weeds that can overwhelm the more desirable perennial wildflowers. Annual wildflowers always remain more compact and flower more freely on unimproved soils.




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Talkback: Three ways to create a mini-meadow
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Chromebaby 18/07/2014 at 07:20

I created a wildflower garden in our front garden a few years ago. The first two years were fine; it looked great, very pretty with a good mix of flowers and grasses.

The third year the clovers that were in the seed mix dominated and smothered everything else. I thinned it out at the end of the year.

This year it was the grass's turn to dominate. Much of the reseeding I did didn't produce flowers.

One thing that these articles fail to mention is that slugs and snails love wild flower seeds and seedlings. In the wild they're controlled by predators but in an enclosed, city garden you'll need to do something about them if you want wild flowers every year.

I've now cut everything down and dug up most of the grass tufts. I've reseeded and, sadly, slug pelleted the area. The next morning revealed how many slugs and snails were present.

Seedlings have started to appear and hopefully, with fewer slugs and snails around, they will have a chance to grow and put a beautiful display.

pansyface 18/07/2014 at 15:16

http://s4.gardenersworld.com/uploads/images/original/52934.jpg?width=266&height=350&mode=max

 Don't know why this ended up at the top, should have been at the bottom!

Hello Chromebaby. I have been through all the trials and tribulations of trying to make one of these Homes and Gardens wildflower meadows myself.

It took a long time for the penny to drop with me (it often does) that they are completely artificial concoctions. In nature, there are two types of thing; there are "wildflowers" (usually annuals growing in recently-dug soil) and "meadows" which are permanent ecosystems in which mostly perennials grow. But the two rarely co-exist in the wild.

I have tried to create the former by buying in seed of several invitingly attractive wildflowers and planted them in a turned-over patch of soil. I just ended up with an abysmal mishmash of tangled stems with a quick rush of colour followed by another mishmash of tangled stems, this time brown and dying.

After failing to take the hint for several years, I finally gave up on that and decided to go with the soil that I have (mainly chalky) and the climate I have. I left nature to do what it wanted with what I had given it. It took quite a lot of patience with a nagging sense that this wasn't going anywhere. As you say, one year one thing surpasses all the others, the next year that plant has gone and has been replaced by something else.

I now seem to have a more or less settled "wildflower meadow" which looks exactly like the so-called weeds in the field opposite my house! But it sure is easier to maintain than the lawn that it used to be.

Keep on keeping on.

 

Beaus Mum 18/07/2014 at 16:26

Totally agree with you pansy face, the ones in the mags arnt real!  I have very small patch of grass and It is awful and "patchyi" is an understatement! I have sown so many seeds in those patches and not a thing! Not one seed has shown its face! Think at the end of summer I'm gonna cheat and either plant very small plants or plugs and choose exactly what I like and wish for in my pretend meadow  

I thought yours look pretty damned perfect so your patience certainly paid off  Chrome baby did you see monty sorting his newly planted wild flower meadow last week? If you can watch on replay that may have some good tips too 

 

Chromebaby 18/07/2014 at 18:43

I created a wildflower garden in our front garden a few years ago. The first two years were fine; it looked great, very pretty with a good mix of flowers and grasses.

The third year the clovers that were in the seed mix dominated and smothered everything else. I thinned it out at the end of the year.

This year it was the grass's turn to dominate. Much of the reseeding I did didn't produce flowers.

One thing that these articles fail to mention is that slugs and snails love wild flower seeds and seedlings. In the wild they're controlled by predators but in an enclosed, city garden you'll need to do something about them if you want wild flowers every year.

I've now cut everything down and dug up most of the grass tufts. I've reseeded and, sadly, slug pelleted the area. The next morning revealed how many slugs and snails were present.

Seedlings have started to appear and hopefully, with fewer slugs and snails around, they will have a chance to grow and put a beautiful display.

pansyface 18/07/2014 at 18:57

Indeed.

Thank you, Beausmum for the kind words. I find the more I ignore a plant, the better it does.

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