Dramatic difference in wildflower meadow growth



  • matt_fendermatt_fender Posts: 144
    I did wonder if it could be something like that Jellyfire, but the office windows are south facing and the whole area gets a huge amount of sun so I just don't think the difference could be that dramatic. One possibility I did think about was relative soil warmth. The lush area (you can see it better in the picture below) sits over some weird solid concrete that we discovered about a foot down - we think it could be a defunct septic tank, and most of it is now under the office. Perhaps that was able to hold heat better than the heavy clay elsewhere? Or perhaps it is just a more fertile area having been less disturbed when the garden was graded two years ago. Hedge behind the pond is a mixed native hedge and now entering its second season - it is romping away this year:

    And just for fun, here is the same area after turf was removed, 2 months ago to the day (2nd March). I do love the growth rate at this time of year!

  • JellyfireJellyfire SuffolkPosts: 739
    yep I know, the difference a few weeks make is amazing at this time of year. Your slower growing area seems to have come on a bit since the last pic you posted, to be honest I wouldn't worry about it if its only recently been sown, it still looks like it is growing well enough, and I think it will have completely filled out in a few weeks and you wont notice the difference
    You might just have one side flowering earlier than the other, which is quite nice anyway. 
    With that hedge, the pond and the meadow its going to be a lovely wildife haven by summer
  • matt_fendermatt_fender Posts: 144
    Jellyfire said:
    With that hedge, the pond and the meadow its going to be a lovely wildife haven by summer
    That's the hope. The garden was a blank canvass 2 years ago after extensive house renovations but the hedge and pond have already made a huge difference - they are alive with birds all day, and hopefully the meadow area will only improve that. More by accident than design, I have ended up with the perfect vantage point for watching them from my office desk, which is great - there are 4 starlings flapping away in the pond as I type!
  • JellyfireJellyfire SuffolkPosts: 739
    Excellent, its amazing what can be done for wildlife with a relatively small space, and the enjoyment it gives back is a well worthy swap imo
  • Guernsey Donkey2Guernsey Donkey2 Posts: 6,410
    Wild flower seeds versus plug plants - plug plants win every time.  I have sown seed on some patches and plugs on another patch and everyone of the plugs has grown into a substantial plant that is gearing up to flower this spring/summer.  We have teasel, foxglove, knapweed, Jacob's Ladder,  pink campion, ox eye daisy, dog violets and many more - the seeds I sowed in between these plug plants has come to nothing so far. This picture was taken in March and each of these plants is now double in size and most are ready to flower. I will be adding some more plants to fill the bare patches of soil.
  • matt_fendermatt_fender Posts: 144
    Two weeks on from the first image. As you can see, the "healthy" side continues to thrive, but the other side is slowly getting there. One observation; quite a few of the cornflower and poppy seedlings on the unhealthy side (not so much in this image) have red lower leaves. I'm wondering if this could be a sign of a nutrient deficiency? I would rule cold out as a cause because the healthy side doesn't show this at all. I suppose in some ways there is a conflict in the requirements for this wildflower patch, since the cornfield annuals are supposed to like a more fertile soil but the perennials do not.

  • JellyfireJellyfire SuffolkPosts: 739
    Wow it really is a case of the grass is greener on the other side! My first impression on seeing the new photo is could the topsoil be shallower on the left hand side? It looks like the kind of growth you get when there is rubble or suchlike under the soil. The good news I'd say is I still wouldn't worry about it, you might find that you get different species thriving on different sides. There are lots of wildflowers that will love that, especially as it looks like they wont have to compete with the grass much there. I think the left will still fill out for summer, but be less vigourous, and once youve had a season and a bit of self seeding the different species will take a good hold in whichever is their preferred side
  • LucidLucid Posts: 320
    @matt_fender - your garden looks like a lovely space. Please can I check roughly what depth you've got for your hedging bed, and what species you've included etc? I've always wanted to fit in native hedging to my garden but was led to believe I wouldn't have the space for it as if you prune the hedges too much they won't flower etc. However it looks like yours is off to a great start in what looks like a smallish bed (although I appreciate that may be an optical illusion). Did you start off with whips?

    Lucid :)
  • matt_fendermatt_fender Posts: 144
    Thanks @Lucid.
    The hedge is about 6.5m long and the depth of the bed is 90cm from fence to brick edge, which I installed after I had planted the hedge (probably not the best way around). Not sure if I am allowed to link supplier, but I got the hedge as bare root whips from Hedgesdirect, and it was the "National Trust Flowering Native" pack of 50x 60-90 cm plants (more like 60). This includes crab apple, guelder rose (viburnum), blackthorn, bird cherry and hawthorn. I added elder (not sure why) and dog rose to the mix as well. None of it has flowered yet, but the dog rose looks set to shortly - I think that will be quite impressive when it happens, based on the amount of buds around. I hope/expect the rest of them will probably start flowering next year.
    I'm been very happy with the performance of the hedge generally - it really didn't look much going in, and many of the whips seemed to have minimal roots. I think only 1-2 didn't take out of about 70 in total. I did install a soaker hose along the full length and kept them well watered, which probably helped.

    This is Feb 2018 (pre brick edging, pond and wildflower patch):

    This was September 2018:

    And this is from this week - the hedge is absolutely romping away. I did cut it back by about a third during winter just gone.

    I'd definitely recommend it. I think it looks great (even better when it starts flowering), and has been a revelation in terms of attracting wildlife to what was a pretty empty garden before (more or less stripped during major house renovations).
  • JellyfireJellyfire SuffolkPosts: 739
    looks fantastic Matt, what a transformation. Amazing how much difference can be made for wildlife with a bit of thought. 
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