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small wildflower meadow

hi hope you are all well. 

we want to make a strip of our garden into  a bee friendly / butterfly friendly area. 

its the strip on the left below

image

since the picture was taken we have planted  cherry, pear and apple trees in that strip (pear will be about 4m high at maturity, the cherry and apple about 3m, they are all currently about 1.8 m high, lowest branches about 45cm off the ground).

the strip is 15m long by 3 m wide. 

the direction the camera is facing is south (we have a north facing garden as I'm sure you can work out...)

ive thought about ripping up the grass and planting wildflower meadow seeds, or maybe just planting them from the fence out to about a meter.

i don't want to harm the trees.

I'm also considering lavender and anything else that would help...please advise. 

any suggestions would be great. i dont want to cross contaminate the main lawn to the right if i can help it. 

thanks again!

Last edited: 03 April 2017 21:02:40

Posts

  • Hi, a wildflower meadow will spread to the rest of your lawn.

    You could keep some of the grass and put in a series of spring bulbs (bees love crocus) and early flowering plants like primrose, cowslip, alongside your daffodils, then some later flowering bulbs.

    Or rip it up and underplant with bee friendly plants - your trees may be young enough to cope with underplanting as the roots won't have spread much so you can plant up the patch. Lift some of the lower branches as stuff underneath needs light.

    There's loads of bee friendly plants but pick the ones for your soil type as well as amount of sun/shade, Lavs are lovely but high maintenance, I'd go for Nepeta (Walkers Low) around the edges as it has similar purple spread and bees love it just as much and its much lower maintenance than the Lavender. Make sure you have some late flowering plants like sedum too.

    Last edited: 03 April 2017 22:17:40

  • supportsupport Posts: 18

    yeah, low maintenance is what i need...I'm new to this!! i dont have much time either. 2 young kids and work take priority, although i am enjoying gardening actually, and so is my 3 year old, he's obsessed with trying to grow carrots now...(we havent planted any yet, but ive made him a 2.4m x 1.2m box to grow things in) but i need an easy way into it. in the past just mowing the lawn has been an issue.... (although ive been given an old broken ride on lawn mower that i have now repaired, which is more fun than appropriate, but my son loves riding on it and we get the lawn cut eventually)

    id like perennials so that i dont have to replant every year if possible.  although is it a lot of hassle to replant? in my mind i see and endless list of garden tasks already....having to plant things at the right time just adds to it ...is it a big deal really?

    if the wild flowers do spread, are they easy to keep under control, (by just mowing the main lawn?) or will it be a nightmare? if answer is "nightmare" then i'll skip it - i dont want to end up with a 15 meter strip of mud for half the year either, what does a wildflower meadow look like in winter??  

    id rather not rip up the grass....lots of work, but will do if necessary. are there other ways forward here?

    trees are really young, 2 or 3 years i think. only just bought them from the garden center the other day. will post pics tomorrow. 

    anyways, thanks for your advice already...please keep it coming

    Last edited: 03 April 2017 22:53:03

  • raisingirlraisingirl East Devon, on the Edge of Exmoor.Posts: 6,320

    If you take the grass off in the strip where you want the wildflowers, you can buy a wildflower 'meadow' seed mix that you scatter, rake it, keep watered until it begins to grow then leave it alone. You have to cut it every September time - after the flowers have dropped next year's seeds - then leave it alone again. Pretty much that's it. The work is in getting all the grass out and the seeds established but once it's going it is reasonably self sustaining - that's sort of the point of wildflowers. These are generally annuals.

    The down side is they have a fairly short season - most flower set seed and die back in May and June. There are perennial wildflowers, primroses, bulbs like snowdrops and bluebells, spring flowers like cow parsley and wild carrot and columbines, summer flowers like ox-eye daisies, geraniums and achilleas and verbascum, so you can make a wildflower garden in the same way you make any other border. With the perennials, you don't have to take the grass off first but if you don't, the plants will need to be fairly big before you plant them into holes in the grass, or they won't survive.

    The annual wildflowers may seed into the grass but they won't germinate if your lawn is healthy and will die if you mow it regularly so no, not difficult to manage. The perennials probably won't seed across but even if they do, mowing will see them off too. The only plant that likes being mowed regularly is grass.

    Last edited: 04 April 2017 08:39:09

    “Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first” 
  • supportsupport Posts: 18

    thanks for this.

    what is the best way to take the grass up? i have a scarifier being delivered in the next few days, apparently on maximum it will go back to bare earth...

    im probably going to buy a tiller as well. 

    or should i dig under the grass and remove it turf style? if i do that, can i turn the turfs over so the grass points down to keep the top soil? 

  • raisingirlraisingirl East Devon, on the Edge of Exmoor.Posts: 6,320

    Either approach can work, but if you strip the turf stack it up in a corner to break down, don't turn it over onto the wildflower strip. (Monty Don was stacking turf on GW last week, if you didn't see it?) The turf breaks down and makes lovely rich crumbly 'loam' if you stack it, which will be very useful in the garden. BUT wildflowers thrive where the soil is fairly poor. If you put all that goodness back to the wildflower section, you'll get lots of grass and not so many flowers. 

    The best option for seeding it is probably to strip the turf, loosen the soil under it (possibly with the tiller but pull out any real 'thug' weeds like nettles, dandelions and docks if they are in there BEFORE you use the tiller or it will spread them out all over the patch - other wise just lightly dig it over).

    For planting perennials, you could take narrow strips of turf out or scarify patches, plant the plug plants into the gaps and then leave the rest to avoid getting weeds seeding into bare earth as the perennials get established.

    “Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first” 
  • supportsupport Posts: 18

    thats great, thank you so much

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