by Ed Cook, Meadowmakers Nursery
2023 sees us enter our third year of trading, but our experience in wildflowers, meadow-making and re-wilding more broadly comes from a lifetime of interest and experimentation.
The case for incorporating native wildflowers hardly needs making these days – the renaissance is nationwide, and the information comes from so many different sources. When David Attenborough and Monty Don do your advertising for you, life is so much easier!
The surge in interest in native planting is not merely a fad. It is crucial to saving our native ecosystems and in the battle against climate change. In the 1970s and 1980s, a similar revolution took place with garden ponds. Wildlife ponds in the wild had reduced by over 98% but now there is more fresh water in people’s back gardens than there is in the countryside, and this has helped to save and restore many species of amphibian, dragonfly and aquatic invertebrates, back to second-World War levels.
Now we need to do the same for wildflowers. The statistics are heart-breaking:
What ever happened to the clouds of moths on our car windscreens on hot summer nights? Where have all the songbirds gone on our country walks? The collapse in native ecosystems is in large part due to the loss of native wildflowers, and the native grasses we used to leave to grow long before intensive farming.
Now for the happier bit!
You can single-handedly do something to change this.
A recent study by the University of Sussex showed that planting a wildflower area the size of a double mattress, using Campions, Scabious, Ox-eye Daisy, Cranesbills and wild herbs, had an astonishing and immediate impact on diversity. Here is what they recorded:
On the back of this, came an increase in bird and mammal visitors, and an increase in fungi species found in the soil.
You do NOT have to create a fancy wildflower meadow to achieve great results, nor do you have to give up formal or ornamental planting. There is room in almost every garden – even if it is just a pot or container, to have a wild area with 100% native species. Including the grasses, because half of all butterfly species (for example) use grasses to breed.
Here are 3 fabulous ideas for habitat creating, using our super-plugs to kick start establishment (sowing can be very hit and miss and take 2-5 years to achieve the same results).
How about a flowering lawn?
What about a meadow that you can cut fortnightly, so it never gets too dense and shabby? It can even be walked on! Try planting the following plugs from our stall. They are ready to plant straight into your lawn with a trowel or bulb planter:
Try planting the following plugs from our stall. They are ready to plant straight into your lawn with a trowel or bulb planter:
(all for sale on our Plant Hunters’ Fair stall).
What about a woodland edge, or flowering orchard (indeed any shady corner)?
There are many wildflowers that thrive in shade, under trees, or in those awkward corners that get very little direct sunlight.
Try planting the following plugs from our stall:
Also effective in some shade are:
You can get all of these from us, depending on the season.
What about some feature wildflowers?
Some of our wildflowers can hold their own against any ornamental flowering plant. Three absolute stunners are available from us later in the season, in large 2litre bio-pots:
You can grow any of these in large pots, or plant in a sunny border amongst your existing ornamentals.
Ed will be helping you become a meadow-maker at lots of our plant fairs
Click or tap here for a list of the Plant Hunters Fairs Meadowmakers will be attending. Ed is happy to bring orders to fairs.
Text: copyright Ed Cook, Images: copyright Plant Hunters' Fairs.