Friday, 17 August 2012

Meadow Gardens

I have to say, the wild-flower meadows are looking amazing this year. With all the early rain and then the sudden appearance of heat, the grasses, annuals and perennials have all done remarkably well.

At the Olympic site, they have used mixes that are easily available and perhaps the relatively new development of 'wild-flower matting', which you can buy from some of the bigger or specialised landscape companies. The result has been splendid. A few years ago I had the honour of looking about the garden writer and photographer Deni Bown's garden at Yaxham in Norfolk. She has a keen sense of adventure and was experimenting with various mixes of her own creation to see what was the most appealing. She had chosen American prairie plants and native plants as well as some other more exotic species and the result was marvellous.

Indeed many of the towns I visit these days have small spaces enlivened by the use of wild-flowers. Horsham and Reigate are two such councils which have used the idea well. But, how do you create a wild-flower meadow of your own?

There are some simple rules to follow:
1. Ask your self some important questions: How well do you know your climate and situation?Is the soil wet or dry? Sandy loam or clay? Do you have a rabbit or deer problem? Is it in heavy shade or full sun? How big is the plot? Will you want to cut it once a year or more and do you have the equipment to cut it?

2. Make sure the ground you are going to use is prepared well but not fed well. (This will not encourage the grasses from taking over and give your precious flowers a chance to thrive).

3. Once you have looked at and prepared the site, then decide on the flowers. The best thing to do is to ask the advice of a good wild-flower seedsman such as Emorsgate Seeds, or Boston seeds. They will be able to talk you through the process and recommend the best for you. If you want to go down the more expensive route of plants and mats, the internet is awash with companies, including and

4. How much patience do you have? – Because sometimes despite your best efforts, it may not work out the way you wanted. Be ready with that stiff upper lip!

5. Lastly, aim for good luck and good growing weather! If you are still confused, go to the excellent source of information at:

-- Guy Deakins

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