The Darling Buds of May
Wildflower meadows are the perfect alternative to a preened lawn or flower border, providing subtle yet stunning form in any shape or size of garden. The idea of a wildflower meadow conjures dreamy and picture perfect visions of bright, brilliant sunshine, blue skies, acres of swaying grasses and gorgeous coloured flowers. I also have a vision of people in floppy hats and sundresses running in slow motion, smiling until their cheeks can no longer stretch across their faces - maybe that is just me!
To me it is the 'Darling Buds of May' effect - the idealistic haven of a care free and easy going way of life. Ignore the perfectly coiffed hedging and neat, straight lines of an immaculately mown lawn. Forget about the uniformity of formal planting schemes and perfectly pruned foliage. Gardens of this kind take immense time and effort to maintain and for many, is a place that cannot be fully enjoyed and utilised. It would be like living in a show home - too scared to sit on the sofa for fear of the cushions creasing or dislodging.
Most of the natural wildflower-rich meadows have been lost since 1950 due to changes in farming practice and due to alternative uses for the land. The 'busy' and technological advances in modern day society has left us craving the peace and tranquility of a simpler time.
Not only will a wildflower meadow emanate serenity and calm but will also attract the gentle hum and flutter of bees and butterflies. The other benefit of a wildflower meadow is that they will often thrive for many months of the year, providing prolonged colour swathes from spring through to early autumn.
Live the Dream:
Close your eyes and take yourself back to a time where flowers were free to roam the unspoiled land.
You may wish to turn some of your lawn or an unused flower bed into a wildflower meadow. Wherever you choose, it must be in a location that is open and sunny. The larger the site, the better as this will allow you to pack in a wide range of flowers and grasses for full effect.
Prepare your chosen site:
Wildflower meadows require careful preparation in order for the project to be a success. For smaller beds and borders you may wish to remove weeds and debris by hand. Ensure all vigorous weeds are removed effectively and by whatever means deemed necessary. You may wish to dig and rotovate the soil, sifting larger lumps into a fine sandy texture. It is always best to leave the planting area bare for 4-6 weeks as this will determine if any weed seeds have germinated. Remove these all before planting. Preparing the soil for this kind of planting can be undertaken at any time of year.
Wildflower seed mixes are a popular option for these types of spaces as they are easy to sow, distributing a range of varieties within the mix.
However your meadow can be achieved using young plants - this provides you with a little more control and you will reap the benefits sooner than from a seed mix. When positioning your plug plants, take into consideration their flowering times so that you get a full and abundant display.
We will all have our own preferences on plants that we wish to see in our wildflower meadows. However I have compiled a little list below of popular:
|Papaver orientale Marlene|
Papaver orientale Marlene:
Papaver offer large, blousy blooms in an array of rich shades. This variety in particular is incredibly elegant, boasting divine hairy foliage too to create even more texture during spring and summer.
Delicate, crisp white blooms form stunning clusters of intricate blooms from June to October. Fine ferny foliage will provide clumps of lush greenery and will provide the perfect addition to a wildflower meadow, providing valuable texture along with suitable companion plants.
|Cosmos bipinnatus Rubenza|
Cosmos are stunning summer blooms that are produced in an array of gorgeous, vibrant colours. You may also collect seeds to sow for subsequent years.
Primroses are renowned for growing wild in meadows and have been a sure sign of spring time. This is what makes them a popular addition for any wildflower meadow project.
|Leucanthemum Real Charmer|
Leucanthemum Real Charmer:
Leucanthemum Real Charmer are the perfect addition to a wildflower meadow with large, fancy and frilly flowers held on tall, strong stems throughout the summer. They are easy to grow and will thrive in full sun or partly shaded areas.
|Lychnis flos-cuculi Petite Jenny|
Lychnis flos-cuculi Petite Jenny:
A highly vibrant and flamboyant addition to a wildflower meadow to pack a punch of colour. Stunning, shaggy double pink flowers emerge atop dark slender stems and compact bushy foliage from early summer into autumn. Best planted in full sun or part shade.
Other suitable wildflower meadow varieties include Pennisetum, Thalictrum, Umbels, Campanula, Filipendula, Scabious, Marigolds and Buttercups, although there are many other varieties and mixes to choose from to suit your individual taste.