Wildflower Lawns and Meadows
The 'flowery mead' was a feature of the English medieval garden. Its popularity declined as garden fashion dictated that there should be clear separation between beds, borders and lawns. Lately the idea of having an area of fine-leaved and long growing grasses liberally sprinkled with a wide variety of native wild flowers has caught our imagination again. A wildflower lawn can contribute to redressing the impact of modern farming practises that are damaging our Bee populations.
There is still some confusion between these new meadow mixes and wild flowers, which need different soils and treatments. The attractive feature of mowing on occasion rather than a regular task, words of warning that unless you are fully embracing the Green Movement, don't turn your whole garden into a Wildflower Meadow - for most of the year it will have an uncared-for appearance.
Native wild flower meadows do best in sunny places where grass grows thinly. Their ideal site is sheep-grazed downland or any impoverished turf. A lawn that has been mown for years with the clippings removed and no fertiliser added would be an ideal starting point. Modern lawns that contain ryegrass mixes are less than ideal. A wild flower meadow should not be cut until the seeds of the flowers have ripened, which will probably be in early August, and will then need a second cut before winter. All the mowings must be carted away. If left, they will add nitrogen to the site. If grass is too lush, yellow rattle sown fresh in September will help to control its growth.
It is best to start from scratch, it is vital to know what soil you are dealing with, because local flora and grasses will vary. Then you can get down to creating an wildflower meadow, bank, using land that is too poor to grow anything else.
All coarse perennial weeds need to be removed before you start. If nettles, docks and thistles dominate, left to themselves, they will keep reappearing. It is difficult to weed a newly sown wildflower meadow. Don’t expect much from new ground in the first year, it will need to be cut early as well as late, although some mixes do include annual seeds of poppies and cornflowers for the initial stages.
Verdant - can will advise on seed mixtures and what might work best for your lawns conditions.