Grow a mini meadow

Grow a mini meadow


Posted 12th Jun 2013


If you're feeling inspired after The Wildlife Trusts' Our Meadow Wildlife Weekend, then why not plant your own mini meadow and attract some of the amazing wildlife you've spotted to your garden?

Successful sowing

All gardens are different, so find out whether yours faces north or south, what sort of soil you have, and whether it gets morning or afternoon sun. Knowing these answers will help you put the right plant in the right place. For example, some plants like hotter, drier spots, while others will wilt without shade - creating a curving border will increase the variety of shady and sunny spots. Soil texture and acidity will also affect which plants will thrive in your garden:

Heavy clay needs plants which cope with wet, sticky soils, like self-heal and water avens.

Chalky soil isn't great for acid-loving plants. Instead, try kidney vetch, greater knapweed or salad burnet.

Sandy soil might need compost or you could try drought-tolerant plants, like sea holly and sainfoin. Test your soil type using a simple kit from the garden centre.



Nurture natives under threat

One in five native plants - some of the best for wildlife - is under threat of extinction. Why not have a go at growing some of these yourself and then try finding them in the wild?

Maiden pink has disappeared from half its sites in the UK. It loves sunny rock gardens.

Introduce stunning native alliums - wild leeks - to your flower beds. At over six feet high their purple flowers never fail to impress.

Almost 90% of chamomile sites in Dorset have disappeared. It is a delicious addition to any herb garden and makes a delightful, scented lawn.

Be sure to check your native plants and seeds really do come from the UK, not abroad. To be safe it is best to buy wild flowers or seeds from specialist suppliers. Don't take plants directly from the wild or plant your own there either. Neither will benefit nature.


For sunny spots

With extreme weather like floods and drought already challenging nature in the UK, choosing plants that can cope with these changes will not only benefit you, but will also help wildlife too. For sunny, dry spells, why not try some of those listed here? All can thrive without much water, and bees and butterflies will love you for it too:

Cornflower - marjoram - corn marigold - musk mallow - field scabious - poppy - greater knapweed - viper's bugloss



Why not consider some rock and wall plants too, such as:

Basil thyme - common rock rose - bell heather - perennial flax - biting stonecrop - rock cinquefoil



And not so sunny spots

Shady and dry - Don't be surprised that shady spots can be dry - soil dries if tree roots suck out the moisture. Try: - bluebells - green hellebore - columbine - lily of the valley - foxgloves - tutsa

Shady and moist - Great for: - lungwort - sweet violet - oxlip - wood crane's-bill - solomon's-seal - wood spurge

Dappled shade - Hedgerow plants tend to enjoy both sun and shade. Mix in smaller wild flowers with existing shrubs and climbers. Consider: - bastard balm - everlasting pea - betony - primrose - dog violet - red campion

Boggy spots - For really damp soil, try creating a bog garden. Use: - bugle - purple loosestrife - cuckoo flower - ragged robin - marsh marigold - yellow loosestrife



Butterfly and moth larval food plants

We love to see butterflies, but we would not have them without their caterpillars. So why not try planting some of the following to help them out

Alder buckthorn - brimstone butterfly
Birds foot trefoil - for dingy skipper and common blue butterflies, and burnet moths
Common nettle - for red admiral, comma, peacock and small tortoiseshell butterflies
Cuckoo flower - for green-veined white and orange tip butterflies
Garlic mustard - Orange tip butterfly
Grasses - speckled wood butterfly
Holly and ivy - holly blue butterfly
Rosebay willowherb - elephant hawkmoth
Thistles - painted lady butterfly


Herbs


Herbs are great for attracting a variety of insects in the garden, such as day-flying moths and hoverflies:

Angelica (Angelica spp)
Borage (Borago officinalis)
Catmint (Nepeta spp)
Chives (Allium shoenoprasam)
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis)
Mint (Mentha spp)
Rosemary (Rosmarimus officinalis)
Thyme (Thymus spp)
Wild marjoram (Origanum vulgare)



Plant a wild window box

A great alternative when space is limited is to plant a wild window box. Include early flowering bulbs as these provide vital nourishment for bumblebees awaking from hibernation. If your window box doesn't catch rain, water it regularly and use mulch to keep it damp.

 

Images courtesy of The Wildlife Trusts: Scott Petrek, Bob Coyle, Margaret Holland





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