Wildflower Meadow – to Sow or not to Sow, that is the question!
These days it seems that every gardening guru and Green Party activist is recommending the rewilding of the countryside with Wildflower Meadows!! In recent months, countless people have called into the garden centre requesting wildflower seed.
What is a Wildflower Meadow?
The idea is to dig up an area of your garden that is currently growing boring old grass and sow wildflower seeds instead, usually in March/April time, or September. The meadow will provide, a feeding ground for bees, nesting for birds and lots of other insects. I recommend www.wildflowers.ie for native Irish seed. It is important to source your seeds from a reputable supplier. In recent weeks there have been reports of packets of imported wildflower seeds containing Black grass seeds which is an invasive weed that poses major difficulties, particularly for tillage farmers.
How do I sow a Wildflower Meadow?
Firstly, decide if you’re going to sow an Annual Meadow, (which is one that will flower for this year, but will need to re-sown again next year) or a Perennial Meadow, (which means that it will come back and flower every year.) The Perennial Meadow, takes longer to establish and you might not get the full flower effect you’re looking for immediately, but you can always add in plants as needed.
Management of Wildflower Meadow
You might consider mowing a pathway around the meadow so that you can access it easily. If the area is not too big, you could consider cutting a meandering pathway through it. Pathways will help draw people in to walk around the meadow, including kids who can then see the new wildlife in the area (and destroy your meadow in the process).
Yellow Rattle is sometimes put down as well as the wildflower seed, it helps to keep down grasses and encourages other wildflowers to grow.
Cutting your Meadow
Sometimes, in recommending the planting of a wildflower meadow, your hapless Green Party activist might fail to bring the practicalities of the proposal to your attention. Like all meadows, your wildflower meadow will need to be cut. At the end of the season the meadow could be 3 feet tall. Farmers use a tractor and mower to cut their hayfields, but your lawnmower isn’t likely to be up to the job. Is there access for a tractor to cut it easily? Alternatively, a scythe was traditionally used to cut a meadow and it can still do the job.
You should remove the cuttings once it is mown, as the wildflowers will grow better in less fertile soil and by removing the cuttings, you’re not feeding the soil.
Finally, as a word of caution, it tends to be the case that common field grass, creeping buttercup and ragwort begin to invade your wildflower meadow, however, it can always be re-sown every few years to keep the idyllic look.
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Photo Credit @AnnieSpratt