plants for a wild life friendly meadow

I have a meadow area and want to extend the range of plants in it. It's stiffish soil but not really heavy clay, badly drained in places and hard in summer. Former agricultural land, grass since 1960s. Lesser knapweed goes well, scabious persists but doesn't increase much. various buttercups have good and bad years. I have yellow rattle trying to reduce the grass a bit and it does work but it's got a way to go. I'm not a native purist and was wondering if any of the more robust invasive plants around the garden might survive in grass. On my list of possibles are persicaria, echinops, assorted geraniums, and some of the more invasive asters. I shall probably try it anyway but wondered if any of you have tried this and have suggestions.

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  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 43,705

    I think you're right in trying to reduce the grass growth by introducing yellow rattle.  Another way of doing this is to remove all mown grass from the meadow as this will reduce fertility (but you probably know that already).  I've had wildflower meadows in the past, but have never tried to introduce garden varieties into the meadows.  What I have found is that sometimes plants establish more easily around the edges of the meadow first, and then spread their way towards the middle, so if you're introducing things like geranium I'd put them around the edge to begin with.  Maybe some of the native Herb Robert would mix in well there too - it's probably a bit more tenacious.  Something else that does well in damp clay-ey meadows (in my experience) is Lady's Smock http://wildflowerfinder.org.uk/Flowers/L/LadysSmock/LadysSmock.htm.

    What a lovely project - photos would be lovely at some time image

    No-one knows if you've done your housework, but everyone knows if you've done your gardening !
  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 24,244

    Thanks. We have lady's smock on a lower piece of grass which floods if we get a lot of rain, it has good years and bad. I'm hoping for good next year after all the wet. I'll move a few pieces up to the meadow and see how it goes. I suppose there's nothing to lose by trying anything I've got. I know it will be too dry in summer for prairie type planting though I'd love to see something like that. 

    The other difficulty that I didn't mention is that after years of long rank growth before we arrived, all those weeds of neglect have moved in, hemlock (not giant), cow parsley and suchlike. I love cow parsley but not everywhere.

    I'll look out some photos and see if I can get them on. I'm pretty new to this site and haven't done pic yet.

     

     

     

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 43,705

    If the meadow's been neglected for that long, then the most important thing is to get it 'topped' and the mown grass removed after flowers have set seed.  If you've not got many flowers there yet I'd not worry too much about them setting seed - seedlings won't survive if the grass is lush anyway - I'd cut and remove the grass several times each year, starting in May - leaving a growth of about 6"-8" which will ensure that even if you remove bloom or seed spikes any perennial plants will survive. Or you could rent it out for a couple of years for grazing image

    No-one knows if you've done your housework, but everyone knows if you've done your gardening !
  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 24,244

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  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 43,705

    Wow, that's looking gorgeous already - properly managed it'll soon look amazing - crying out for snakeshead fritillaries and Ragged Robin -  and that mound could take some pulsatilla vulgaris - I'm green with envy image

    No-one knows if you've done your housework, but everyone knows if you've done your gardening !
  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 24,244

    On a good buttercup year it is impressive, wouldn't want to spoil it by anything too garish. I've always considered it too dry for frits and ragged robin etc but I might give it a try anyway. Another summer like this one and they'd be fine.

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 43,705

    I think its worth trying fritillaries - I used to live very close to the fritillary meadows at Framsden in Suffolk, although part of the meadowland was often quite damp, there were fritillaries higher up the slopes too.  Ragged Robin ought to be ok there, and what about Moon Daisies (Ox Eye) - they grow wonderfully on a bank next to the inner ring road here in Norwich and cheer me up after a long hard day image  Cowslips on that bank too, and primroses by the hedge - Jack by the Hedge too - I'm getting carried away now - it's your meadow.image

     I'm planning a 'hedgerow garden' for a patch between our two big ash trees - if they survive that is image

    PS:  I just thought, wild violets with the primroses - I'll shut up now image

    No-one knows if you've done your housework, but everyone knows if you've done your gardening !
  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 24,244

    No, don't stop. Lots of these plants are elsewhere in the garden and can be transplanted. The ox eye daisies do OK out there. Cowslips less so, I think the grass ends up too long for them but if it gets cut sooner I lose other flowers. I'll keep moving things about til I get it right

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 43,705

    OK, a couple more -  purple vetch is happy in longish grass, and insects love it and it's such a beautiful colour- shades of indigo and violet, and birds foot trefoil (as children we called it eggs & bacon) grew in the damp meadow in front of the house where I grew up - another one the bees love image

    No-one knows if you've done your housework, but everyone knows if you've done your gardening !
  • chickychicky SurreyPosts: 7,198

    How gorgeous !  So jealous !! 

    We have been trying to turn a "field" into a "meadow" for four years now and it still looks like a patch of waste ground.  When you wander in amongst it there are quite a lot of different wild flowers (quite a few that Dove has mentioned above) - including a roving patch of yellow rattle (never seems to come up in the same place year on year).  But we never get that overall wildflower meadow look.  I've been told that the only way is to resort to glyphosphate, but I keep resisting .... lets give it "one more year" !

    The Stone Age didn’t end because they ran out of stones ......
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