“Autumn is the hush before winter” ~ French Proverb
Autumn wildflower maintenance ……in the wildflower meadow is all about preparing for next year. Preparing using the five principals of meadow management. Crucially, that means continuing to reduce soil fertility and suppress grasses. To conserve the wild flowers, control unwanted species and encourage a wider range of species.
- Growing: By the time autumn arrives, your wildflower meadow should have had the main cut of the year (unless it has been created using Meadowmat for Birds and Bees – see below). If your hay crop is still standing, cut it back now. After the main cut in your wildflower meadow, allow the plants to recover and grow. Don’t add any fertiliser of any kind as this will damage your wildflower meadow.
- Mowing: A traditionally managed meadow would be grazed at this time of year. Assuming you don’t have a herd of cattle in your garden, it’s a good thing to mow once or twice in autumn. Keep the mower on its highest setting – aim for a cutting height of 10cm (4 inches) and be sure to remove all clippings. This is a good way to reduce soil fertility.
- Autumn leaves that fall on to your meadow should be removed before they can rot down and add to soil nutrients: Hint: run over autumn leaves with a mower and the grass box will pick them up, chop them up and prepare them for composting
- Sowing: Autumn is the perfect time of year to create a wildflower meadow . Meadowmat or seed laid at this time of year will have the whole winter to establish and will be ready to romp away in the following spring.
September and October are the ideal months to add extra species to your meadow using wildflower seeds, plug plants or bulbs.
If your wildflower meadow is especially grassy, now is the time to sow seeds of yellow rattle. Yellow rattle is an annual wildflower that suppresses grasses. It needs to be sown in autumn using fresh seed. The seed needs to feel the winter frost if it is to germinate in spring.
Autumn maintenance for Meadowmat for Birds and Bees
Meadowmat for Birds and Bees is all about late summer seed heads that persist into autumn and winter. Autumn maintenance for this seed mix is simple. Don’t do anything. Just enjoy watching the birds visiting your garden. If you like photography, the seed heads will make excellent subjects – especially on frosty mornings.