The show garden featured in this article illustrates perfectly how wildflowers fit into a low maintenance small garden.
- Have a strong layout for your garden
- Create a beautiful backdrop for your wildflowers using screens and fences
- Clever garden design will ensure all year round colour and interest
- Have somewhere to sit and appreciate the wildflowers and the wildlife they will attract
- Use low fertility soil to help avoid weeds and grasses
- Research wildflower species and choose the ones that will most enjoy your garden
- Invest in the services of a skilled garden designer
Why grow wild flowers at all?
There are literally thousands, if not millions of plant species that you could choose for your garden, so why choose native wildflowers? Garden Designer Rebecca Wallman chose wildflower matting for her show garden in Essex for several reasons.
- Easy and quick to install
- Very attractive to wildlife
- Supports struggling species of beneficial insects
- Low maintenance
- Creates a relaxing – even romantic ambience in the garden.
The joy of native plants is that they are a part of British heritage and they are the great-great-great-grandparents of some of our garden favourites. The other important thing about wildflowers is that they have evolved side by side with our pollinating insects.
Adult butterflies and bees can adapt to feed from any suitably shaped flower – no matter where in the world it originated. Baby bees however need high protein pollen for their development and that is freely available from wildflowers such as clover and birdsfoot trefoil.
Butterflies are even fussier about food for their larvae. Some butterfly species need specific plants to lay their eggs upon. Usually, those plants are native wildflowers.
Wildflowers are disappearing from our countryside and from brownfield sites. So by growing a few wildflowers in your garden, you really are helping the creatures that help to pollinate our food crops.
Designing a small wildflower garden
Enough about why, let’s look at how Rebecca has designed a space to combine the pleasures of relaxing outdoors, having a stylish garden, and supporting wildlife.
Give your garden a strong layout
I love the layout of this garden. It’s only a few square metres in size and is typical of the gardens often seen in modern newbuild properties.
Rebecca has used paving to create a cross shape with four individual sections. In the sunniest corner of the garden is a slightly raised platform for a seating area. One section houses a small tree for height and to make a focal point. Our mini wildflower meadow is in a third area and the forth is for brightly coloured (also bee and butterfly friendly!) flowers.
In the centre of the “X” is contrasting paving and a beautiful corten steel bowl. The bowl makes a beautiful water feature/bee drinker but could probably also be used as a fire-pit for cooler evenings.
Makes sure you have a beautiful backdrop for your wildflowers
I love the grey and orange colour scheme of the screening around this garden. After all, why should a fence be plain brown?
There are two types of screening here, each one reflecting the theme of the garden. A timber trellis looks beautiful as it is, or it could be used to train climbing plants. The stunning metal screens are used in moderation to keep costs under control but boy! Do they make a statement? The colour is picked up again in the planting and in the furnishings.
Screening like this sets off the whole garden. Use it around an al-fresco dining area or to create small, private areas in a large garden.
As a boundary it works well, providing privacy without making the small space feel like a prison yard.
Your choice of wildflowers
What can I say? I’m biased of course, but Rebecca’s choice of Cottage Garden Meadowmat is just perfect and in early June, it was only just beginning its summer display.
Choose wildflowers that will delight you with the colour and shape of their flowers and foliage. Bear in mind though, that not all wildflowers will like every garden.
Soil type is important. If you have a small garden it’s well worth investing in some low fertility soil. Too many of the wrong nutrients will encourage more grasses than wildflowers. Whilst grasses are beautiful, they’re not attractive to pollinating insects.
Think too about light and shade. Our meadow wildflowers have adapted to living in sunny conditions. If your garden is slightly shaded, opt for woodland wildflowers instead.
Rebecca named her garden “Less is Moor” because the simple, low maintenance design is reminiscent of a Moroccan (Moorish) courtyard. In this age of climate change, and warmer summers, it’s just right for a sunny UK garden too.
Would you like to grow wildflowers in your garden?
By investing in the services of a garden designer, you can be sure that your wildflower patch will be in keeping with the rest of the garden. It will look “designed” rather than abandoned.
A trained garden designer can advise on the best materials and how to install them – and garden design services don’t cost the earth. Especially if you have a small garden.