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New Wild flower garden

A friend of mine has a very large garden and has asked for some help from me to reduce the time needed to tend her garden as she is recently single, and has little interest in the garden.

I think one area in the garden would really suit a naturalised area of wild flowers.  She loves wildlife and has 2 cats who would love to stalk through the long flower stems and grasses. Her funds are pretty limited

The area is currently down to very uncared for grass.  any advice please on how to start.

I had thought of lifting the turf  and digging it over but not sure on timing .  Is it too late to plant wild flower seeds ?   She cant afford to pay for wild flower matting which I know is quick and easy.  Any thoughts or inspiration ?


  • ButtercupdaysButtercupdays Posts: 4,288

    There are different kinds of 'meadow'.

    Most people seem to think of poppies, cornflowers, corn cockle and corn camomlie when they think of 'meadows', but as the names indicate, these are plants (weeds!) of cornfields, that need cultivated soil.

    If your friend has an area of 'very uncared for' grass she probably has the makings of a true meadow, that is one based on grass.  All those 'weeds' that people moan about in their lawns, like celandines, buttercups, speedwell, daisies etc naturally grow happily in grass and she probably has some already.

    I also have a large garden and want to limit maintenance and so I have some meadow areas.

    One is fairly dry and mostly sunny and to the already present pignut, hawkweed, buttercups and hogweed I added meadow cranesbill (Geranium pratense) .  In another part of it there are knapweed, agrimony and betonyand loads of other things that just grow here naturally

    Another part is damp and mostly shaded and here I have added Camassias, and Persicaria bistorta superba and one or two other things that don't mind damp shade.

    The shady meadow is better in early summer, the dry one follows on later. They both look lovely in their moment.

    BUT they both look increasingly untidy as the summer wears on. The damp one sometimes gets left, as it can be too wet to cut, but the dry one gets cut to the ground, raked and mown in September. This is a lot of work, even though it needs little attention the rest of the year. I do remove docks, nettles and thistles that would take over if left unchecked.  I also mow a path through it, walking through long wet grass is no fun!  It also helps limit the untidiness. So the romantic vision has a downside.

    The best bet for your friend might be just set the mower higher and mow less frequently . She could add in some plugs of wildflowers she likes, maybe cowslips, primroses, violets etc that are fairly low growing and just watch for what comes up. If there is a source of wild seed locally there will be new arrivals, but they will need monitoring for desirability.

  • hogweedhogweed Central ScotlandPosts: 4,053

    If she has lack of time and lack of money I would just cut paths through it or round it. As long as she keeps these paths well cut it will look as though it is cared for and just call it a meadow. Next year you could either sow seeds in pots and then transplant later or direct sow into areas of ground. Apart from cutting the paths it should need no other maintenance if that is what she wishes. I too would dig out the thistles and docks but up to her. 

    'Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement' - Helen Keller
  • FireFire North LondonPosts: 17,116

    I'm not sure the cats will be much help in establishing an area good for wildlife.

  • neal4neal4 Posts: 19

    Thanks guys.  all very helpful.

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