HOW TO CREATE A MEADOW EFFECT IN YOUR GARDEN
Mark Cook, senior gardener at Capel Manor Gardens, enfield, Middlesex, capelmanorgardens.co.uk, 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.