Since the 1930s we have lost nearly 99% of our unimproved grassland in the countryside. This means we have also lost the large variety of flowering plants which in turn supported the butterflies, bees and other insects, farmland birds and a wide range of other wildlife.
There are a few ways you can recreate these wildflower meadows in your garden.
Perennial meadows which recreate the original unimproved wildflower meadows take the most preparation but give great results year after year. The unimproved part means they have nutrient poor soils so it is best to remove the top soil and work directly with the subsoil.
Annual meadows are made up of cornfield flowers that thrive in nutrient rich soils meaning that preparation is easier and they take less time to establish, usually providing a full bed of flowers and colour within three months. As annuals it is important to allow the flowers to go to seed to increase the wildflower seed bank in the soil.
A simpler method of creating a small wildlife haven in your garden is having a “no-mow” area. Leaving the grass to grow will allow beetles and other insects to thrive, sparrows and goldfinch will come and eat the grass seeds, and the wildflowers already present in the grass will bloom. Your garden can still look neat and maintained by mowing borders around the longer grass and paths through. These paths are also used by garden creatures as corridors, moving into the long grass for cover or for food.
If you’re interested in creating any of the above wildlife friendly gardens then please get in touch. If you have already created one we would love to see pictures of it, telling us what you did and what it has attracted.
(images courtesy of NJ Cooper)