Easter symbolises new life, so why not celebrate by helping your little ones to create a brand new wildflower meadow?
A wildflower meadow offers a wealth of opportunities for observing, learning, playing and/or relaxing
Not only will they be able to watch the plants germinate, grow and flower; they’ll be able to watch the comings and goings of the mini-beasts who visit their meadow for food and shelter. They’ll see different types of butterfly flitting around the flowers and they can learn to identify some of them. Likewise with bees – did you know that there are over 250 species of bees in the UK.
Even very young children can learn to identify and name butterflies and flowers. Having a wildflower meadow to hand teaches them to respect and cherish our native wildlife.
Sowing a wildflower meadow with children
The first job is to prepare the soil. Find a nice sunny spot in the garden, preferably somewhere with poor soil. Wildflowers don’t tend to thrive in nutrient-rich soils. Their metabolism can’t cope with the food overload.
Dig the soil to loosen it up. Remove every last plant, leaf and root as you do so. Children can help you to search for, and collect the debris.
The soil needs to be at least 15cm deep. Check by pushing a screwdriver into the ground. If the whole blade goes in easily, you’ve dug enough.
Now rake the soil. You’re aiming to get a fine tilth with a texture a bit like the topping on an apple crumble. Again, the little ones will be able to get involved with this activity. It will certainly help burn off their energy.
There’s a nice texture to this soil but those bits of grass need to be removed before any wildflower seeds can be sown.
Time to sow the seeds: It’s important that the seeds are spread nice and thinly. If the plants are too close together they’ll crowd each other out.
I find it’s best to tip a few seeds into the palm of my left hand and then use the finger and thumb of my right hand to pinch up a few seeds at a time and gently sprinkle them all around. This is a good method to teach little ones….you still get a random sowing but won’t have a whole heap of seeds all dumped in one place.
Don’t cover the seeds with soil – wildflowers need light to help them germinate.
Water them in gently. Be very careful not to wash the seeds away. If children are helping with the watering they’ll need a small watering can with a sprinkler on the spout so that the droplets don’t get concentrated on one patch.
Watch and wait. If the soil is warm and damp, it won’t be long before you start to see little green shoots appearing.
Handy Tip For Wildflower Gardening with Children
Give them a magnifying glass and show them how to use it – It’s amazing how such a simple tool can keep children occupied for ages.
Where To Buy Wildflower Seeds
These seedboxes from Meadowmat contain enough seed to make a small but effective wildflower patch. 20grams of seed covers 4 square metres (roughly 6ft x 6ft) which is big enough for butterflies to find but small enough that it doesn’t take up your whole garden.