What is meadow gardening?
Meadow gardening harks back to the ancient practice of cultivating hay meadows which stopped the land naturally reverting to woodland. Instead of planting borders, or sticking to a rigid pattern, it’s about creating the right conditions to allow native wild flowers and bulbs to flourish, and to let Nature into your garden to see what she has to offer.
What are it’s benefits ?
Lots! It’s a haven for wildlife, changes naturally with the seasons, and is constantly evolving. It enables you to have a dialogue with your garden, doesn’t cost very much, and as long as you cut a meadow garden once a year is generally low maintenance – be observant to its needs, and a meadow garden largely looks after itself.
What do you enjoy most about meadow gardening?
I’m fascinated by their natural beauty, and how each one is unique. They make me feel especially close to Nature and her rhythms. I especially love their informality, and how they constantly surprise you – if the conditions are right, it’s possible even to have wild orchids pop up in a meadow garden, so for me they’re very special.
Its also heartwarming to see how other people love to see and experience a meadow in a garden – which most people have never seen. In the last 50 years so, largely due to intensive chemical farming methods, we’ve lost 97% of our wild flower meadows. As a gardener I feel it’s one way I can help bring them back to life and protect them for the future – and that makes me feel good, too
So, what’s the best way to start?
The most important thing to remember is that wild flowers do best in poor soils, so, ironically, the first thing to do is to stop feeding your soil or lawn with fertilisers or organic matter. If you want to create a meadow garden from a lawn, for example, you keep mowing it until the grass weakens. You also need to make sure the ground is as weed free as possible, as these can easily overrun the wildflowers whilst they’re establishing themselves.
Before that though, the best idea is to seek advice from seed companies and nurseries who specialise in wild flower seeds, and who will help you choose which are likely to flourish in your soil and situation. Sarah Raven sells her own special wildflower seed mixture for meadow gardens
https://www.sarahraven.com/sarah_raven_wild_flower_seed_mix.htm and gives excellent advice on mini wildflower meadows https://www.sarahraven.com/articles/how_to_create_a_mini_wild_flower_meadow.htm
The Wildflower Shop, http://www.wildflower.org.uk/ part of the Landlife social community enterprise, who grow their own wild flower seeds, is another invaluable resource, whilst other companies, such as Kiss My Grass, produce plug plants – for budding meadow gardeners, a combination of seeds and plugs is ideal.
Any more tips?
Patience!. Creating a meadow garden takes time, it’s not an instant fix. It’s the gardening equivalent of going with the flow, so just tune in and enjoy the ride….