Six top tips on cultivating a wildflower garden
Wildflowers are incredibly hardy and they tend to do very well through the winter, surviving the colder temperatures and the frosty climate, then returning in full force during the spring and summer.
They’re prized for their colour, their scent and the way they help to bring insects into the garden to support a lovely little ecosystem of garden wildlife right on your doorstep. Wildflower gardens attract birds, butterflies and all sorts of creatures that help add a bit of extra atmosphere outside and that’s what good gardening is all about – sense of place.
So how can you actually create a section in your garden devoted to wildflowers? Here are a few tips on what may help. Remember that wildflower gardens are often high maintenance at the very beginning, but once they have been given time to develop they do so on their own and don’t require loads of input from you.
Think of that naturally developing garden as the reward for the work you put in at the outset.
The first thing to do is to make some room for your wildflower garden. You can do this by sacrificing a border or by choosing a portion of ground at the end of the garden that provides a lovely backdrop for the more landscaped parts closer to the house. Otherwise, you might want to use a mini wildflower meadow instead of the typical lawn that you might usually find in a suburban garden.
Invest in soil
Contrary to what you might think, wildflowers actually thrive in poor soil. It’s really important that when starting a border from scratch you invest in the right type of soil that will provide the perfect support and nutrition for a healthy wildflower garden, but that will reduce the likelihood of competition from grasses. Grasses prefer good soil – as do more delicate species of flowers – but perennial wildflowers love low fertility soil that is light and loamy in texture.
If you want your wildflowers to do well in your garden then you need to remove a bit of the competition sharing the space with them. Although they are incredibly hardy and they can hold their own, it’s important that your wildflower patch is not deprived of light or moisture by other plants or trees. You can suppress competition from weeds by using a fabric or membrane. Otherwise you might prefer to use stones or bark, as long as you don’t go so far as to prevent your wildflower garden from filling out and spreading as it would naturally. You don’t want this section of the garden to become too controlled or landscaped because the whole point is for it to be quite wild.
Use wildflower matting
One very good way of giving your wildflowers a proper bed in which to grow while removing competition is to lay wildflower sedum matting in your garden. Wildflowers will thrive in the material and some of the pressure is taken off in terms of cultivating the right environment for them to grow in. This sort of matting also increases your options of where your wildflower garden can grow – you could even put the matting on top of a garden shed or in an area of the garden that boasts only a very shallow bed of earth. This is great if you’re short on space too.
Find the right plants
Although wildflower matting usually comes with a range of species already grown onto it, it’s worth knowing what kind of wildflowers will do well in the kind of setting. It’s possible to get wildflower seed mixes that contain an assortment of favourites to get things up and running and then supplement this with more once you’ve learnt a little more about this kind of planting.
Some wildflowers you may already be familiar with. Daisies, buttercups, poppies, bluebells, clovers, cowslips, evening primroses, forget-me-nots, foxgloves, irises and marigolds are firm favourites that do a brilliant job of conjuring images of wild meadows in flower. However, when you take an interest in your developing wildflower garden, you may discover many more species, from the common agrimony to the yellow rattle.
Let it be
Perhaps one of the most crucial tips is not to get too carried away. If you meddle and interfere with your wildflowers excessively then you will as likely as not prevent nature from taking its course with regard to the shape and health of this part of the garden. When you leave things alone, you allow them to develop as they please with the bees and the butterflies performing all the necessary pollination and the shrubbery thickening in the proper manner. You want to be able to head to this part of the garden to get a taste of the wild meadow even in the suburbs, where you can close your eyes and take in the smells and sounds of the countryside!
The team at Meadow Mat supply a whole host of accessories and essentials for wildflower cultivation in domestic and commercial spaces.