I want to create a flower meadow but where do I begin?
Where to sow your flower meadow seed mix
Sowing a flower meadow needn’t be complicated, but it does require a little thought and preparation. In the long term it is a low maintenance option for your garden and will bring huge benefits to the wildlife as well as creating a beautiful display throughout the summer months.
Wild and semi-wild seeds don’t need rich soil, in fact they prefer poor soil. And you can start a flower meadow almost anywhere and on any scale, even in a big flower pot or trough.
Location, location, location…
Firstly take a good look at the area that you have in mind for your meadow. This might be in your garden or as part of a community project in a public place such as a school or hospital or on a neglected piece of land. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
Are there any wild flowers here already?
If you are looking at a grassy area that has been kept mown for a long time then it may be difficult to see what is growing there. Depending on the history of the ground, it is possible that there are already a variety of wildflowers laying dormant and waiting for their opportunity to grow and flourish. Many roadside verges are the remnants of ancient meadows and contain all manner of species waiting to burst forth. By giving the grass a year without mowing (or perhaps mowing it less frequently or leaving areas of it unmown) you may find all kinds of surprises will emerge. Take the time to observe what is coming up at different times of year. Once you know what is there you will be in a better position to decide what you need and whether to protect and enhance what is already there. You may, for instance wish to add to the diversity by sowing seeds into small areas or adding bulbs or plug-plants.
...or are you starting with a green desert?
Some lawns and grassy areas are sterile and contain only grass. They may look green and lush but they contribute very little to our wildlife and are sometimes referred to as green deserts. In order to introduce flowers into an area like this you have to expose bare soil for the seeds to take. (Scroll down for instructions to do this).
Choosing the right seed mix
All our flower meadow seed mixes are specially selected for maximum value to biodiversity and to provide colourful blooms in succession throughout the summer months.
When choosing your flower meadow seed mix, give consideration to what it is that you’re trying to achieve and this will help you to select the best fit for the job.
When undertaking countryside conservation projects or restoring meadows for grazing and haymaking, you may be looking for a flower meadow seed mix that contains only British native species such as Hedgerows, Flowery Mead and Wessex Heritage. Other planting schemes and locations may benefit from the broader inclusion of both native and near-native flower species, such as Boheme or Passion, whose varieties have been carefully selected for their benefits to wildlife as well as their aesthetic value.
Most of our seed mixes are named to make it easier for you to see their particular benefits. For instance the Bees seed mix has been specially formulated to support a whole range of domestic and wild bees but you can rest assured that all of our seed mixes are great for bees, butterflies and other pollinators.The Aphid Control seed mix will attract predators like ladybirds and lacewings to keep down the pests on the allotment (and looks beautiful too!). If you would like a more compact meadow, you can choose from our dwarf ranges which provide colourful ground cover, one is particularly suited to grow around a tree foot and another to sow under shrubs and roses, and yet another is specially for sowing in containers and window boxes. We also have mixtures for shaded areas or for very dry soil, you could sow the following: Dry Soil, Edge & Border or Every Kind of Soil. These are just a few examples of our range.
For each flower meadow seed mix you can find a brief description on the product page and some pictures to give you a snapshot of what you can expect. If, after browsing through the range you still are unsure which to choose, then we will be happy to hear from you and discuss your particular project.
When to Sow
Sowing can be done in the spring or in the autumn and while most seed mixes can be sown at either time, some seed mixes are better suited to one or the other.
Spring sowing is from March at the earliest, to mid June. Hold off until any danger of frost has passed. The key to success will be rain or watering at the right time. It is worth checking the weather and sowing just before a rainy period is forecast. If your meadow has had sufficient water for the first six weeks, it is unlikely that it will need watering after that.
Preparing the ground and sowing your flower meadow seeds
The preparation of the soil is the most important step in sowing a floral meadow. Meadow in my Garden seed mixes will grow happily in a wide range of garden soils and it is not necessary to remove the topsoil. It is however very important to prepare a weed-free seed bed with a fine surface texture. Loosen any compacted soil. The upper layer should be as fine as possible. If the soil is thoroughly prepared prior to sowing and sprouting, there will be minimal need for weed control.
If the area that you plan to sow is currently covered by grass, we recommend that you remove the turf completely (this will give your flower meadow seeds the best chance). Alternatively, you can scarify the grass (rough it up) to the extent that it no longer looks like a lawn and has lots of patches of bare earth. You can use a garden rake to do this but you must do more than just tickle the surface. In a hay meadow the ground would get roughed up by grazing animals and wildflowers have evolved to take advantage of the disturbed soil.
N.B. Sowing yellow rattle seeds will also help to reduce some of the grassy competition over time.
Sowing a flower meadow is similar to sowing a lawn. However, do not rake over the seeds as this would cover the smaller seeds and prevent them from germinating. The area size that your seeds will cover is indicated on your seed pack. Distribute the seeds evenly over the prepared surface. Press the seeds firmly down, either by using a roller or by treading them carefully down to ensure that they have good soil contact.
The only maintenance required is cutting back once a year. When the plants have completed their development cycle, you may want to remove the faded blooms and foliage. Depending on the weather conditions you may find that your meadow continues to flower long into the autumn.
Maintenance of annual meadows:
Annual flower meadows will set seed by themselves but we recommend that you re-sow the flower meadow to maintain diversity. Cutting back should commence after flowering comes to an end. This may be as late as October or November, when the weather first turns cold.
Maintenance of perennial meadows:
Perennial meadows are planted for two years minimum. Their maintenance is designed to encourage re-seeding of annuals and maintain the population of perennials. Spring planting (early April) requires mowing between mid and late September. Regrowth in the second year will begin to bloom from April and then the mowing should be done around mid-July. Your meadow will look dry for a couple of weeks but this will allow the seeds to mature. The mowing period is the same for autumn planting.
Cutting back / mowing
Cut at a height of about 10 cm. This can be done with a strimmer, rotary brush-cutter, mower or scythe. Collect the well dried residue and remove it from the meadow. Your meadow is ready to bloom again the following spring.