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Growing in Grass

March 23, 2012

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.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. kzackuslheureux permalink
    March 23, 2012 4:22 pm

    I just love the serenity of your lovely meadow pictured.

  2. March 24, 2012 7:57 pm

    I love your sister’s meadow, I wish I had more space to have a small one. We occasionally leave some of our grass uncut by our pond and it feels so different. Have you been to Sticky Wicket? The garden was amazing and such an inspiration, we used to enjoy visiting it, I knew it was now closed but I noticed on her site following your link that she might open it for a few days this year so I will have to watch out for this!
    Sarah

    • March 24, 2012 9:28 pm

      Hi Sarah

      Yes I did go to Sticky Wicket and I loved it. I am sorry to hear it’s closed but will check out the days that it might open this summer. I can imagine what a commitment opening to the public involves in terms of up-keep etc/. I’m not surprised that they’re unable to sustain such a stunning naturalistic garden, it takes a huge amount of effort and cost. Sue

  3. March 25, 2012 10:07 am

    I long for a flower meadow like this, the holiday cottage in Suffolk we stay in has one and it is the most peaceful place to be. Sadly though I’ve no room for one here. Or much else for that matter! A lovely post, thank you 😀

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