This is the simplest, cheapest recipe I know to turn a patch of earth into an explosion of colour and a bonanza for pollinators. You can do some prep now, sow from mid-April until mid-May, and enjoy a blaze of colour from June until October.It will work for any area – from a metre squared in your garden, to the middle of a round-about, or even an Olympic Park. It just needs to be sunny for at least half of the day.I’ve done this for a few years on the bank at the bottom of Grimshaw Lane, Bollington and it always gives much reward for little labour.
To start your wildflower patch, I’d suggest using an annual meadow seed mixture. You can get these from Pictorial Meadows in Sheffield. You need 3 grams per metre squared.
Get started by weeding out any plants that are already growing. Use a fork to break the earth and pull out any roots you can see. This is easier when the soil is damp.My first top tip is to weed the area a few weeks before you plan to sow. This is called ‘staling off’. A few days in the sun will trick any weed seeds lurking in your soil into germinating. Then you can get your fork or hoe out again and send them packing.
Your next job is to rake the soil into a fine crumbly consistency, a bit like breadcrumbs. This is known as a “tilth” and will make sure your seeds contact the soil.
Now we can sow!
My next top tip is to sow your seeds in lines. This means that when they germinate you can distinguish between your lovely meadow flowers and the sneaky weeds. You don’t have to make them straight. Use a bit of stick to create a shallow furrow in the soil about 1cm deep and 20cm apart.
Another sly trick to bestow upon you, is to mix your seed with sand. This has the advantage of making sure you’ll evenly spread out the seed over the area, but it also means you can see where you’ve planted when it comes to doing a spot of weeding (should you choose to!)Any sand will do, and if you don’t have some, you could use dry compost instead. Chuck in your seeds and give it a good stir. Lastly, use your hands to put a trickle of sand in each of your lines. You don’t need to cover the seed, just firm the sandy lines down with your hand.
That’s it! After about three weeks shoots will be emerging from the soil; within six the first plants will flower.
Soon, you’ll have a drift of lovely flowers. If it’s dry, watering the lines of seed early on will speed the process, but you don’t need to.
Watch: Pictorial Meadows’ at the Olympic GamesListen: Master My Garden talks about floral meadows vs. wildflower meadowsRead: Must-have book from the Meadow Maker Supreme More about Ben’s work: www.wild-gardener.co.uk