Autumn is the ideal time to sow a hardy meadow for beautiful displays next spring and summer
how to grow a wildflower meadow
Join Sarah for a walk through the wildflower meadow at Perch Hill, where she shares her top tips for successfully growing perennial and annual meadows
how to create a mini wild flower meadow
When Britain hosted the Olympics in 2012, I heard almost as many people talking about the colourful meadows at the Olympic site as about Sir Chris Hoy and Mo Farah. The perennial wildflower meadows in Stratford were the work of James Hitchmough, professor of the Department of Landscape at the University of Sheffield. He designed 25 acres on the steep banks of the Lea Valley, using British native perennial wildflowers – long-season stalwarts such as spiny restharrow, betony, common toadflax and field scabious. The aim was to produce a meadow that would be as colourful as the very best examples you could find in nature. Everything was timed carefully so that it would all bloom at once, in a great exhilarating whoosh over the period of the Games. It went down magnificently.
the importance of wild flower meadows
Almost all our meadows have now been sprayed and re-sown with more productive grasses to create more hay, with others turned over to arable. It’s been estimated that by 1984, 97% of lowland semi-natural grassland had disappeared during the previous 50 years, with the surviving meadows now very fragmented and often degraded. That is a terrible destruction for us – for the beauty and richness of our countryside – but it’s a catastrophe for our native pollinators. They rely on these very plants for their life cycle, habitats and food, so it’s not surprising that with this transformation of the British countryside, we’ve seen our pollinator numbers go into across-the-board declines.