Growing in Grass
There’s nothing quite like seeing a mown path cut through an area of grass that’s awash with wild flowers. Here in my sister-in-law’s garden in Oxford she’s established a colony of ox-eye daisies, Leucanthemum vulgare, from plugs planted several years ago. After sowing seed in trays the seedlings were then pricked out into homemade newspaper pots. When they had formed good roots they were planted in their paper pots which would bio-degrade in the grass reducing root disturbance
Ruth says it took about two summers to really get going and now the daisies multiply each year re-appearing in late spring/ early summer. With a long flowering season from June to August it would be tempting to limit the planting to these alone but Ruth’s added clover and buttercups which provide extra texture and colour. A purple bee orchid appeared a year ago, the seed probably dropped by a bird, and is being carefully watched in the hope that it will spread.
This naturalistic meadow-like area is relatively easy to achieve and once established requires little attention. A cut with the mower in late summer/early autumn when the flowers are dying back will ensure the seed heads are scattered to make more plants. The cuttings need to be raked off to reduce fertility of the soil and to disturb and loosen it to allow the seeds to set. A repeat cut in January leaves the area free for small bulbs like crocus, snowdrops and chionodoxas planted in Autumn to come through in March. A path can be cut through the planted grass and regularly mown to access a shed, a gate or a bench. And it will look best with a well-defined edge to it as in this image where the grass path joins the main lawn area.
There’s time this spring to convert a grass area in this way by purchasing a supply of ready grown plug plants from http://www.meadowmania.co.uk There you’ll find ox-eye daisies, meadow buttercup, wild carrot and much more ready to plug into your long grass area. But if you want to take it more slowly and keep costs down then seed is available to sow in trays. Transfer the seedlings to the grass when strong roots have formed.
For more advice on naturalistic planting I strongly recommend http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Perennial-Garden-Noel-Kingsbury. It’s full of the most inspiring photographs and advice on what to grow to achieve a traditional meadow, wildflower lawns, perennials in rough grass and much more.
This image was taken at www.stickywicketgarden.com in Dorset last summer. Here the meadow is on a larger scale than the Oxfordshire garden but both are lovely examples of naturalistic planting.
A sweet purple crocus came into flower this week. When it’s finished flowering I shall tip it out, make sure the bulbs aren’t soggy and plant them in the ground near the hellebores.