Low maintenance gardening with wildflowers – Wild flowers have always managed to thrive without man’s intervention. It wasn’t until we started importing exotic species from tropical climes; or selectively breeding our plants to alter their basic properties, that gardening became more complicated.
Our native plants are quite happy left to their own devices without being fed, pruned, or sprayed. They don’t seem to suffer from diseases and they cope fairly well with pests. They probably give us more TLC than we give them.
In days gone by, the wild flower meadow was a source of food (think edible leaves and flowers) and medicine. In a roundabout way it also helped produce honey and pollinate our fruit and vegetable plants. So it would be a shame to lose them. Why not bring more wild flowers into our own gardens?
There are 3 ways to grow wild flowers in your own space.
1. Buy pot plants and incorporate them into your own design
2. Grow them from seed
3. Lay wild flower turf.
Let’s look at the pros and cons of each method.
1. Buying wild flowers in pots
This is probably the costliest way of introducing wild flowers into your garden – especially if you wish to fill a large area. But, you do get to pick out the healthiest, strongest plants on the shelf. You can also add wild flowers into your herbaceous borders this way. Foxgloves are a favourite of mine for adding majestic height to a border. I also love oxeye daisies for their happy faces and scabious for their delicate colours.
2. Growing wild flowers from seed
Definitely the cheapest and most entertaining way to grow any type of plant. (apart from maybe taking cuttings). Wildflower seed can be bought in most garden centres but, if like me, you’re concerned about buying things that have been ethically sourced, you might prefer to buy British.
Some have been grown under controlled conditions, some have been harvested from wild flowers. But only where the plants are plentiful and the landowner is agreeable! There are strict rules on taking plant material from the wild in this country.
You might want to take a look at the range. For a retro, vintage, old fashioned feel, go for the Traditional Meadowmat seed mix. If you want more colour, the cottage garden mix will be ideal. The shade mix is best in – well – shade. And if you want to be attracting birds to your garden this winter, try out the Birds and Bees seed mix. Whichever one you prefer – they’re all lovely.
3. Laying wild flower turf
The quickest method that offers (I think) the best value for money. There are loads and loads of plants in a square metre of Meadowmat Wildflower Turf and you will have robust groundcover from day! The only criticism I can offer is that it’s quite heavy and cumbersome to actually lay. But you only have to do that once and it will last for many many years.
Caring for a wildflower area
As previously mentioned. Perennial wildflowers are really easy going. If you want to deadhead them to extend the flowering season you can. It works well with oxeye daisies but may be less effective with other species.
If you don’t want the hassle of deadheading (it’s time consuming and can make your back ache a bit) – then just leave them be. The seed-heads are beautiful in their own right.
Once the flowering season is over – usually this coincides with the end of summer – you just need to scythe everything down to about 10cm (4 inches to you and me) high; take away the clippings and let the plants do their thing for the next few months. If they start to look a bit rampant in early winter, give them a quick blast with the lawn mower – just to keep them neat.
Annual wildflowers like the brightly coloured cornflowers and corn marigolds are best grown from seed and will need to be re-sown every spring. But they’re worth it!