Since lockdown was lifted I’ve been travelling along the highways and byways on my way to clients’ gardens, and the wildflowers along the roadside verges never fail to take my breath away. In a ‘normal’ year, they are as much a marker of the seasons as the leaves on the trees, from wild primroses in April, to cow parsley and foxgloves in May, and the hundreds of nodding heads of the dog daisies in June. How precious they seem this year, when travel restrictions kept us confined, apart from daily walks, to whatever we had growing in our own gardens! There are still more to look forward to as summer unfolds, especially here in the Burren lowlands, with sky-blue scabious, aromatic wild marjoram and many others still waiting to flower, before the multitude of golden grass seed heads takes over in late summer.
A wildflower meadow crops up frequently on clients’ wish lists, and I love the opportunity to incorporate one into a garden design. They are a great way to link the surrounding countryside with the garden itself in a rural area, and it’s usually in rural areas that gardens tend to be bigger, with the challenges that brings. Meadows are super for wildlife, with different species providing nectar and pollen throughout the growing season, a huge bonus as intensive agriculture and the use of herbicides and pesticides continue to endanger many indigenous plant and animal species.
A few things are worth bearing in mind if you’d like to introduce a meadow area. It’s worth removing most of the topsoil, as most wildflowers thrive in poorer soil – if it’s too nutritious, the grass will dominate. Make sure, also that the seed or plug plants you’re using are suitable for your area – is it rocky and free draining, for instance, boggy, or close to the sea with salty winds? Different species will thrive in different areas and it is worth seeking out a wildflower seed mixture that’s tailored to your conditions. Finally, remember that the meadow will need extra care in the first few years, as the plants establish. Annual and biennial flowers will need to set seed for the following year, and perennials need to settle in and form healthy roots. But a little extra care early on will help establish a beautiful meadow that you can enjoy for many years to come.
Meadows are good for biodiversity and humans can enjoy them too!
Anne Byrne Garden Design provides easy to follow Garden Plans that you can implement right away or in stages. Anne’s design flair and passion for plants brings a touch of magic to gardens of all sizes.
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