Homes & Gardens - - IN SEASON -

Mark Cook, se­nior gar­dener at Capel Manor Gar­dens, en­field, Mid­dle­sex, capel­manor­gar­, says wild flower seeds can be sown in poor soil, grit, gravel and lime-rich ground in spring and au­tumn. Flow­ers take a year to es­tab­lish fully, so be pa­tient. Use seed bought from rep­utable seed mer­chants; do not take plants from the wild.

Choose an area of lawn that is dif­fi­cult to mow (Capel uses a slope that is mown once a year), or an un­cul­ti­vated spot be­neath a tree, at the bottom of the gar­den or run­ning along­side a hedge, for ex­am­ple.

Lift the turf, where nec­es­sary, and rake the soil to a fine tilth 2.5cm deep, then sow with your cho­sen wild flower seed mix.

Mark rec­om­mends us­ing mixes that con­sist mainly of wild flower seeds, such as Mir­a­cle­gro’s Flower Magic Wild­flower Mix. “All the books will tell you to have a large pro­por­tion of grass seed in the mix, but I’m not a great fan of adding grasses; these will ap­pear by them­selves and will out-com­pete the flow­ers, so we’ve used wild flower mixes only and it looks bril­liant.”

Leave to grow. As the meadow be­gins to es­tab­lish, you will need to weed out com­peti­tors such as docks, this­tles and net­tles by hand.

Cut back in July or Au­gust, once the flow­ers have set seed. A long-han­dled hedge-cut­ter is a use­ful tool for this job.

Leave the cut­tings for a few days to dry, turn­ing oc­ca­sion­ally, to make sure all seeds are shed, then rake the meadow and com­post the de­tri­tus.

An­other cut may be needed in Novem­ber. To take your meadow to an­other level, al­low it to es­tab­lish for a few years be­fore plant­ing bulbs; ca­mas­sias are a favourite at Great Dix­ter.

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