Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Creating a wild-flower meadow in the garden

Creating a wild-flower meadow in the garden was always on the plan. This year it is looking spectacular and they more than meets expectations. I don't know why more people don't have one. You can create a wild-flower meadow in the garden even in the smallest or unlikeliest of places. Leave a grassy border to grow, see what happens. Create an island in the middle of a lawn, let it grow, scatter seeds gathered from walks in the country side. Grasses, flowers, wild herbs...what ever is native.

Here at La Pasera we were fortunate because the house was built on an old orchard where the meadow had been traditionally maintained with regular, seasonal scything. This method ensures that biodiversity can be maintained by letting plants and flowers reproduce and run to seed, next years display safely deposited in the soil or stored in roots and tubers.

Each year, we leave three islands of grass, in the same place every year, we also leave the grassy borders down two sides of the garden and a small patch down by the old cherry tree. At this time of year it really comes into its own with a magnificent display of wild flowers, orchids, grasses, plantains and more. We think there maybe up to 30 - 40 species of plants at any one time in each area. This changes through the year. We have scattered seeds collected from around our local area and let it take its chance.

Each year, in late June, when most of the seed heads from spring have dried or are drying, we scythe the areas and leave it to dry for a few days. This is then raked and the dry vegetation is added as useful dry matter to the compost heaps. The grasses and flowers soon begin to grow back again and by August, a whole new batch of flowers and grasses are beginning to bloom again. It is left until late October, early November when it is once again scythed, dried and raked.

Not only does it look great, these mini environments create great habitats for crickets, spiders, beetles, butterflies, bees, shrew, lizards, slow worms, moths, grasshoppers, field mice, rato topos, snails and birds. Both Wentworth and Gawber are often distracted by the jump of a grass hopper or the hum of an insect. Stopping and listening for any likely prey that maybe lurking inside.


  1. We have a lot of lawn and I'm converting it to meadow slowly. I am sort of daunted but it's already been rewarding to see butterflies appreciate my efforts :) i flipped over the carpets of grass and put plugs of coneflowers daisies yarrow and coreopsis and some purslane is volunteering as groundcover. I like your idea of letting grass grow in patches, but I think there are laws against that here in Bethesda md... Maybe by ding it in islands it looks manicured enough to not cause trouble. I was considering planting grains for the deer, and that would probably look similar...

  2. That sounds like a plan....It would be good to see pictures when in full glory.


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