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Wildflower area under a tree

Is there any chance of planting a wildflower area (ideally bulbs in the spring), long grass and flowers in the summer, maybe autumn crocuses (which are already there) for autumn, snowdrops (also already there in the border) or will it be too shady especially for the summer. Would love to do this for the bees and insects etc if there is a combination that might work under the heavy summer shade of the well-established prunus tree. Thank you for any tips.


  • a1154a1154 Posts: 1,058
    I have seen a wildflower meadow done in an orchard, looked great. Is a prunus more shady than apple trees?  Not sure. I dont know if your autumn bulbs would work as you’d have to strim the meadow after seeding. 
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 83,908
    edited July 2021
    I’d beware … if you can plant the bulbs and sow seeds without disturbing the surface roots of the prunus that’s all well and good, but be aware that if prunus roots are disturbed it can promote a lot of suckering growth which can spread out some distance from the tree. 

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • Nanny BeachNanny Beach Posts: 8,432
    Unfortunately I cannot open your file,I have done this under an area of fruit trees. Our back garden faces north,but because of the size and the fact we are unoverlooked,it does get done sun.will try to provide pictures
  • Long grass under a tree will make it difficult to grow anything else there so I'd avoid adding any of that anyway. If you already have snow drops and Autumn crocuses under the tree you are doing well and when the time is right to divide the snow drops when they still have leaves you might also be able to divide some of the clumps to encourage more to grow. Ajuga, pulmonaria and brunnera are good flowers for shade and might make good additions to the area and I have found there are also types of crane's bill/geranium which are long flowering and do fine in shade.
  • Nanny BeachNanny Beach Posts: 8,432
    Ah, your file was in my photos.your plum looks very near the studio. I did this it took 5 to ,7 years,will try to add recent pictures. I removed grass,from 2 areas it's clay,nearly killed me first with pick axe and mattock. The left,we hired a turf cutter,tried wildflower seeds, failed,plugs at £1 each, failed,(scoffed by slugs) wildflower turf 80% 20% mix,grass took over,then wildflower border turf,just flowers. Over the years we have added,bulbs, perennials, annuals rugosas. This year is the first I actually have poppies! It's cut back in autumn with a cythe. This year I am adding camasias.on the left is a pear,on the right an apple. We mow a path through the middle,if the grass gets a bit thuggish,we pull some out or cut it with shears
  • Nanny BeachNanny Beach Posts: 8,432

  • bertrand-mabelbertrand-mabel Posts: 2,196
    We have an orchard that was sown with a wildflower mix. The first year it was a delight to see so many brilliant flowers and the insects loved it.
    Each following year though the grass became stronger and thewild flowers declined. One area is cut more often and this has allowed the wild flowers to come into their own again.
    The other area we have removed the grass from 3 different small areas and sown a mixture of wild flowers including yellow rattle.
    Our orchard has plums, gages, cherries, pears, apples, walnut, gogi berries, choke berries, peach and quince.
  • Nanny BeachNanny Beach Posts: 8,432
    Bertrand, pictures please. I have a little orchard at the bottom of the garden,nothing like yours. We have 2 apples,2 pears,3 cherries,a plum.soft fruit now in a separate cage.just wildflowers one side.i tried yellow rattle,never got a single one to germinate!
  • Thank you for all the answers everyone - really useful. And your wildflower area looks lovely, Nanny Beach. Clearly a lot of hard work though. Still not sure what to do but will ponder all the answers and do more research! 
  • bertrand-mabelbertrand-mabel Posts: 2,196
    @Nanny Beach Sorry only picked this up today.
    The weather has been so awful that the main area now for the abundance of wildflowers has been bashed down.
    Found some old ones which gives some idea and then some newer ones to show how the trees have grown.
    The small bare earth with wire over (to stop the rabbits and cats) is where we have sown new wildflower seeds. In scarified areas nearby we have scattered yellow rattle. Yes we have tried it before with no success.
    In the photo with the fence (sheltering a fig and white grape) on the other side of the ox eye daisies I sowed some corncockle from seed that I saved from last year in the main garden. Hopefully they will flower and seed well so that these seeds can be added to the orchard wildflowers.
    We have knapweed, mallow, birds foot trefoil, black meddick, ox eye daisy, corn poppies, dissected geranium, white and red clover, meadow buttercup, rumex, plantains, stitchwort, night flowering catchfly and a variety of grasses. We hope to get the wildflowers to come back again.
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