Stories from the Barn
A hive of activity in the Hampshire downlands
Growing Wild Flowers from Seed
Growing wildflowers from seed.
No matter how small your own patch of green earth is there is always space for a patch of wildflowers and grasses. The benefits of growing traditional British native wild flowers is immense for all our pollinators including the bees and butterflies and it is also important as part of our own well being and if you are a nature lover then it will be an absorbing part of your garden.
Firstly take a careful look at your green space, maybe it’s not so green so see if you can use a well drained container of some sort. An area of 0.5m sq is all you need. Sometimes a good spot is a corner where fences meet or along the back of a fence. If you have a lawn then maybe you could choose to let part of it grow long and establish a wildflower meadow within it rather than mowing it. We know someone who has a small patch of lawn and mows the centre but lets the margins grow long.
Our wild flower seed.
The wild flower seed we include in the boxes is a traditional British native wildflower meadow mix from a top supplier and this is important to ensure both the seed quality and that the mix of seeds is in the right proportion. So the mix we use is a mix of 12 wild flower species, 3 annuals and 9 perennials along with 7 species of grass. The seeds will be fine in most soil types and once established. Sourced from managed and sustainable meadows within the UK so rest assured no non native seeds are included.
The seed mix includes, Corn Poppy, Cornflower, Musk Mallow, Ox Eye Daisy, Red Campion, Red Clover, Ribwort Plantain, Salad Burnet, Self heal, White Campion, Yarrow and yellow rattle. The grasses Browntop bent, Crested Dogstail, Sheeps Fescue, Chewings Fescue, Slender Creeping Red Fescue, Yellow oat Grass and Sweet Vernal Grass.
How to plant your meadow.
OK so maybe it’s not going to be a meadow but it will be a happy spot for bees, butterflies and other pollinators and that has got to be good news. Once upon a time Britain was covered in unimproved grasslands but as agriculture intensified these grasslands were destroyed and we have lost as much as 99% of it.
Native wild flowers need a nutrient poor soil to thrive so nice rich soils are not what we are looking for. Once you have decided on where you want to sow your seed it is time to prepare the seed bed and sow the seeds
- First dig out all the weeds and grass
- Remove at least 10cm of top soil because this is the nutrient rich layer
- Rake out to a fine tilth
- Scatter the seed evenly and gently press down
- Keep the soil moist without saturating
What happens next?
It takes a couple of years for the plants to establish, it’s a time for patience. In the first year you should see poppies, borage, cornflowers and grasses.
- In the first season cut in mid Summer and remove those cuttings. In the second year the other flowers will become established
- Mowing is the art to having a successful meadow (and I got it wrong this year)
- Do not mow from early April to late August or early September
- Leave the cuttings for a week for the seeds to fall and then clear for compost
- Keep an eye on things and remove weeds such as docks, nettles or thistles
I cannot tell you how beautiful or exciting it has been to watch the field fill with dozens of different species of insects and the moths and butterflies have been worth all the effort. Birds and mammals have used the high grasses as shelter and made their trackways through the field or flattened the grasses where they sleep. But even in small marginal spaces we have managed to create habitats in which all manner of insects live so I would urge everyone to have a go at creating a bit of wild flower meadow in their own backyard.