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elainemary 

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Thought I'd start a thread about creating wildflower meadows & share my experience. Hoping I might be able to inspire some of you.

We've lost 97% of our meadows since the war, they're wonderful for wildlife as well as pollinators. A patch of lawn is a good start and it's a perfect time of year to start one, or plan making one next Spring

9 years ago, I decided to 'convert' a poorly maintained acre of grassland on the small holding we'd just bought, into a meadow
Spent the first summer, cutting the overgrown grass & nettles, digging out rocks & burning the old grass

Then with the help of a local neighbour farmer, the field was harrowed & I got hold of some fine meadow grasses & wildflower seed via the RSPB

Spent the next few years gradually adding to the meadow by collecting local perennial wildflower seed, growing plug plants each year, as well as over-sowing more seed. This was sown into the tractor marks after the field was cut every August. It's important to reduce the fertility and take off the hay. I give the hay to a the farmer who helps cut it each year. He then puts sheep on in the autumn to keep the grass down

Key to the meadow success has been introducing yellow rattle, a native annual wildflower which is semi parasitic on grass, it opens the sward and allows wildflowers to germinate and develop

8 years on since I started, I now have over 40 types of wildflowers in the meadow and over 15 species of fine meadow grasses. The wildflowers most attractive to bees are birdsfoot trefoil, knapweed, devils bit & field scabious, yarrow, betony, cats ear and hawk bit.

Lifts my soul every year to see butterflies, moths, hoverflies, all types of bees, bats, hares, owls and ground nesting birds living amongst the meadow

Here's some before, during and after pics. Happy to answer any question / give advice about creating one. It's a nice legacy to leave behind.

Elaine

DBDCF9FF-F870-41F7-B4F0-EC81628B0416.jpegD163E379-97B4-42DD-8C21-F0EE80FF9A94.jpegView attachment 22372C16A0B1A-25FC-4410-9D80-F608A54174A1.jpeg051B57FB-717B-423A-8B97-3CB1C492C83D.jpegView attachment 22375DA627328-2BBA-4615-86BB-898C63C56CF5.jpeg1C715828-9005-491F-B5CC-7E99051D1C20.jpeg
 

Erichalfbee 

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Lovely. Stan and I have managed similar but without any harrowing. We sowed Rattle and top the grass just once in the autumn when the goldfinches have eaten all the Knapweed seeds. The cut grass is just piled under the hedgerow on one side and us home to bumbles mice sloworms and all sorts. We watch our resident barn owls quartering the field in the summer evenings.
 
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Elainemary, the photos of your meadow are beautiful. Would love to learn a little bit more about it.
My long term aim is to move back to the countryside when the kids finish school. I would love to have a walled garden, orchard and wildflower meadow if possible.
 

Newbeeneil 

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Wonderful project Elainemary.
You folks with large plots are very lucky but small gardens can help the wild flowers as well. For the last two years we have done "No mow May" on our small back lawn and our even smaller patch in the front. This year the no mow period extended into August and produced some wonderful blooms for the local pollinators.
This time last year my daughter gave us some wild flower bombs she had been given so we scarified the surface of the grassy bank at the front of our house and scattered the contents. During the summer we identified in excess of 25 wild flowers on this bank not including any grasses.
It was wonderful spotting different varieties as they emerged at different times of the summer. We hope they have seeded successfully.
It's great to see wonderful wildflower meadows but they are things most of us will never get to create. However most of us could easily create a little patch of very diverse growing area in our gardens. It's estimated there are over 500,000ha of gardens in the U.K. A little patch in each would help to recover that 97% lost since WW2
 

jenkinsbrynmair 

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Something like this maybe? this is just one (and first) area of a valley wide project I've been working on as councillor for quite a few years, there are other spots now as large as this plus we're working on a ten acre wildflower area further up the valley. there's still a lot of flowers in it now - in a month or two it will all get topped and everything left to mulch down, in the spring it's a riot of dandelions, once they die down any areas that look a bit tired may get rotavated and seeded, then comes the oxeye daises - they turned up there natutally when the road was just a feeder road for an opencast site a forty odd years ago avoiding a really hazardous junction, years later we adopted the road and closed the hazard junction, then when we started the wildflowers, up popped the daisies again we had to go for a wide selection of colour as the public expect to see something substantial for their rates,, this part is on the road to the local hospital and it really does cheer everyone up.
Hopefully in a year or two all it will need is the winter toppingpollinators.jpgpollinators1.jpgpollinators2.jpgpollinators3.jpgpollinators4.jpgpollinators5.jpgpollinators6.jpg
 

elainemary 

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Elainemary, the photos of your meadow are beautiful. Would love to learn a little bit more about it.
My long term aim is to move back to the countryside when the kids finish school. I would love to have a walled garden, orchard and wildflower meadow if possible.
Happy to answer any questions you have. Just need a bit of hard graft in the beginning and patience. Then keep adding to it and keep removing the grass clippings. Every year it improves and gets more beautiful with more and more wildlife and pollinators visiting.
 

elainemary 

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Something like this maybe? this is just one (and first) area of a valley wide project I've been working on as councillor for quite a few years, there are other spots now as large as this plus we're working on a ten acre wildflower area further up the valley. there's still a lot of flowers in it now - in a month or two it will all get topped and everything left to mulch down, in the spring it's a riot of dandelions, once they die down any areas that look a bit tired may get rotavated and seeded, then comes the oxeye daises - they turned up there natutally when the road was just a feeder road for an opencast site a forty odd years ago avoiding a really hazardous junction, years later we adopted the road and closed the hazard junction, then when we started the wildflowers, up popped the daisies again we had to go for a wide selection of colour as the public expect to see something substantial for their rates,, this part is on the road to the local hospital and it really does cheer everyone up.
Hopefully in a year or two all it will need is the winter toppingView attachment 22380View attachment 22381View attachment 22382View attachment 22383View attachment 22384View attachment 22385View attachment 22386
Great project. Maintaining an annual meadow verge like this needs a different approach to a perennial one, both attract pollinators though I’ve found the simple native wildflowers the best for attracting bees 🐝
 

elainemary 

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Wonderful project Elainemary.
You folks with large plots are very lucky but small gardens can help the wild flowers as well. For the last two years we have done "No mow May" on our small back lawn and our even smaller patch in the front. This year the no mow period extended into August and produced some wonderful blooms for the local pollinators.
This time last year my daughter gave us some wild flower bombs she had been given so we scarified the surface of the grassy bank at the front of our house and scattered the contents. During the summer we identified in excess of 25 wild flowers on this bank not including any grasses.
It was wonderful spotting different varieties as they emerged at different times of the summer. We hope they have seeded successfully.
It's great to see wonderful wildflower meadows but they are things most of us will never get to create. However most of us could easily create a little patch of very diverse growing area in our gardens. It's estimated there are over 500,000ha of gardens in the U.K. A little patch in each would help to recover that 97% lost since WW2
Totally agree, think I read somewhere that 70% of our gardens are lawns. If we could convert a small portion of all of these across the country, we would have nationwide ‘bee-lines’, making a massive difference to the survival of solitary bees and more forage for our honeybees
 

enrico 

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Just been waiting for the rain to hire a turfer. We are going to make an area near our pond but the grass is strong field grass and has to be replaced with a different species. Got all the seed etc so hopefully next year will start to show some progress. Just had the rain so we can get started now!
 

jenkinsbrynmair 

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Great project. Maintaining an annual meadow verge like this needs a different approach to a perennial one, both attract pollinators though I’ve found the simple native wildflowers the best for attracting bees 🐝
Yes, but this is creeping away from annual planting, I have just selected the more 'impressive' perrenial flowers and natural reseeders. I think this particular verge has not been properly reseeded in five or six years (The top, narrower end, definitely not at all)- the only reseeding that has happened is the addition of yellow rattle, some perennial/native seeds at the Western end and some guerrilla borage seeding :D
 

Beedee 

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Grass species such as the ever popular Rye strains are an absolute thug! We had to Harrow once a year for 5 years to convert one of our fields. We couldn’t conventionally strip it back to bare tilth
View attachment 0824E74F-EE2B-4C68-A511-78BB45DBF63D.MOV
as the cows may of had something to say about that ;)

I’ve found particularly low growing varieties such as Birds Foot Trefoil (video was taken this year) , Red Clover & Self Heal is quite popular with my bees! Also customers as they can add them to there lawns-in-conversion without the neighbours complaining that they’ve ‘abandoned’ their garden.

Love the idea of Guerrilla wildflower seeding!
 

beeno 

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So timely for me Elainemary. Absolutely, lovely wildflower meadow just what I have started working on. Mine is only a little strip and the townies are trying to influence me with garish garden flowers which is obviously not what you wish to have in a wildflower meadow. Did sow some seeds in spring from a pack of wildflowers a neighbour gave me, but because of the draught a lot of them did not make it. However, a big patch of clover has emerged, but that was not in the pack. Got my scythe and mowed it in Aug!
 

Amari 

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Thought I'd start a thread about creating wildflower meadows & share my experience. Hoping I might be able to inspire some of you.

Key to the meadow success has been introducing yellow rattle, a native annual wildflower which is semi parasitic on grass, it opens the sward and allows wildflowers to germinate and develop

My main apiary is on two acres of rough grass which ceased to be a plant nursery 12 years ago. My landlord visits only once a year from afar. For the first several years it was cut for hay in July. Latterly it is just topped in August. Several bee orchids previously but none for two years now. Scattered pyramidal orchids most years. Occasional garden plant relics.

I am the unofficial custodian with limited decision powers. My landlord does not want it grazed.

Two problems: 1. thistles are slowly taking over 2. I have tried sowing yellow rattle without success - Have you any tips?
 

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