Wildflowers can be introduced into
grassy areas as pot grown plants. Local stock can often be bought
from nurseries or grown from seed. Plant them in groups into the
turf. Plant in autumn to allow the roots to become established
before competition from other plants builds up in the spring. To
help reduce this, spread a mulch around your new plantings or
replace the turf upside down. You must care for your meadow - see
"Looking after a Wildflower Meadow".
wildflower meadow from scratch
This is the ideal way of creating a
wildflower meadow. Good ground preparation is essential for
success. The secret is a low fertility soil. A fertile soil will
just cause vigorous growth of a few grasses and 'weeds'. You can
reduce fertility by stripping off the top 5-10cm or so of
topsoil. Then lightly rake and roll the soil to produce a seed
The best time to sow your wildflower
seed is in early autumn. You can sow in April, but many seeds
need the cold winter months to break their in-built dormancy.
They will therefore not germinate in their first year from a
- Order specific quantities of the different types of
seeds you have chosen. Sow them in patches into an area which
has been lightly seeded with a natural grass mix.
- The sowing rate should be very low to avoid
1.0 to 1.5g of grass mix per square metre is
- To get an even spread of seed mix it with sand or
- Immediately after sowing, rake the surface lightly
and firm with a small roller.
Take care to
look after your new meadow.
- When the seeds have germinated and the grasses reach a
height of about 10cm, the meadow should be cut. This will knock
back unwanted 'weeds' such as groundsel and chickweed. Any
thistles and docks should be pulled up.
- Before cutting, you can lightly roll the meadow to firm any
plants into the soil.
- During the first year try to cut your meadow every
6-8-weeks. Always remove the cuttings to prevent a build up of
dead plant material. This will help the meadow plants to become
- In following years, adopt a twice a year mowing
Poor soils are
encourage vigorous grasses
The soil will determine whether your meadow is going to be
successful and the types of wildflower seed needed. Some soils are
naturally too rich to bother with.
Don't despair if the soil is too fertile, you could create a
cornfield flower patch instead. Simply sow a mixture of cornfield
annuals (such as poppies, cornflowers, corncockles and corn
marigolds) over bare soil for a colourful display. After the
flowers have set seed, rake over the soil so that there is open
ground for them to grow in next year.
Always use local seed and plants to reflect what naturally
grows in your area. Never use imported seed or plants grown from
unreliable sources. Check before buying.
Examples of some wildflowers and their
|Devil's bit scabious
||Perforate St Johns wort
|A - does well on most soils|
prefers limey less fertile soils
C - tolerates both
acid and limey soils
D - prefers well drained soils
Leave an uncut
edge for insects
|Watch Out !!|
|When using a strimmer,
please make sure that you are not injuring or
killing small animals such as hedgehogs and
If you are going to cut your meadow, it is best done twice a
year at the following times:
- Once in autumn (late August to
- Once in early spring (late March to early
The cuttings must be removed. This will make sure that the
wildflowers can grow. It will also prevent thistles, docks,
brambles and scrub from taking over.
The autumn cut gives the meadow plants the best chance to
flower and set seed. However, traditional hay meadows can be cut
in late July. Farmers may also want to cut at this time to provide
hay for farm animals. The spring cut knocks back thistles and
vigorous grasses that may have taken hold over the winter.
Cutting is flexible, allowing a great deal of control over the
timing, area and height of the cut. However, cutting a whole
meadow in one go can take away all the food needed by insects. So
leave some areas uncut for them. The best way to do this is to cut
the edges of your grassland in rotation. Leave a different side
uncut each year. A four metre margin is ideal.
Cutting can be carried out with a variety of tools. This will
depend on the size of your meadow and what is available to you. On
a small meadow, in medium to long grass, hand sythes or a power
strimmer can be used. On a larger area long grass can be cut for
hay using a power sythe or a tractor drawn grass
If you have a pet pony or have access to cows, goats or sheep,
you could graze your meadow. The best time to graze is usually in
the early spring and late autumn, as with cutting. But - always
get advice about timing.
If your meadow is invaded by 'weeds' such as docks and
thistles, then animals can be kept on over the summer to knock
them back. However this is harmful to insects and should only be
done every few years.
The effects of grazing are complex.
There are a number of things to consider.
- Cattle, goats and other bigger animals are more
likely to erode the soil than smaller ones such as
- Sheep, goats and other smaller animals need better
fencing to keep them in.
- The more animals there are in a field, the less
choosy they are about what they eat. So large numbers can
control brambles and vigorous grasses. But beware - they can
- Animal dung can change the plants growing in a
meadow. Dung patches may become colonised by unwanted nettles
- Animals will need to be properly cared for and need
plenty of water.
Seek professional advice about the number and type of grazing
animals to use.
between cutting and grazing
|Small, less than
half a acre
||May be difficult to
get right level of grazing and difficult to support a
||Cutting is likely to
prove more economical and simpler on a small
|Large, more than
half a acre
||Grazing will be a
more attractive proposition for a farmer
machinery cutting requires many people|
||Grazing can cope
well on uneven ground
||Cutting will be
||Animals may be prone
to disturbance, especially by dogs
||Cutting will be less
||Need to provide
fencing and a source of water
||Need to clear rocks,
etc, which could damage