It’s a tall order, carrying the earth. So with that in mind, I have submitted a project that is on a more personal scale, which could be easily achieved, is hopefully inspiring and supports local biodiversity.
According to Wikipedia: …. [Meadows] often host a multitude of wildlife, providing areas for courtship displays, nesting, food gathering, and sometimes sheltering if the vegetation is high enough. Many meadows support a wide array of wildflowers, which makes them of utmost importance to pollinating insects, including bees, and hence the entire ecosystem.
I sowed a wildflower and grass meadow in my back garden three years ago and have been so inspired by it that I wanted to start another one in my front garden. This required removing most of the existing lawn.
To help pollinators as much as possible I felt it was important to also include early spring flowering bulbs. I chose species that would naturalise easily and start flowering well before the meadow began to bloom. These were tulipa sylvestris (april) , tulipa turkestanica (april), fritillaria meleagris (march-april) and muscari latifolium (april), planted in large drifts before the grass and wildflower seed mix is sown on top . My site required a seed mix designed specifically for hedgerows, as the existing rowan trees and east facing location means that it has very similar environmental conditions to a woodland edge.
I was tempted to choose a wildflower only mix but Denmark is a fairly windy place and the movement of the grasses throughout the summer in my existing meadow is so delightful I just had to include them. Grasses also provide habitat for birds as well as being a good source of seeds and insects.
Here are the four steps I followed to start a meadow.
1. Pick a site and analyse it. It is important to know what type of meadow mix would work best there. Is it in a sunny spot or part shade. Is it poor soil (which in the case of meadows is generally a good thing), is the soil wet or dry? All these factors will help with figuring out what mix to use for the best results.
2. Remove the lawn. There are machines available to rent from most DIY outlets for a daily rate that will make easy work of this. Failing that, a spade and some good old fashioned elbow grease will also work. Do this at least a month before sowing to make sure it is as weed free as possible when sowing.
3. Meadows are best sown in the autumn but it is also possible to start one in the spring. If sowing in the autumn, think about planting spring flowering bulbs at the same time, to lengthen the flowering season.
4. Plant the bulbs and then sow the seed mix, following instructions from the seed supplier.
I wait with baited breath for spring…..
I made a sign to be placed in front of my newly sown meadow, so anyone passing can read about the project. I hope this inspires people to try it themselves and also check out the Carry The Earth website for other stories.
Autumn update: first signs of life.