__MAIN_TEXT__
feature-image

Page 90

Gardening 2.qxp_Layout 2 19/04/2017 16:45 Page 1

GARDENING

MEADOW SWEET Elly West is finding inspiration in the world around her and aiding nature’s declining pollinators, to boot

D

esigning gardens is very much about putting the right plant in the right place, and it can be easy to lose sight of the overall picture and remember that some of the most beautiful flowering combinations occur when nature is left to do its own thing. Chelsea Flower Show, the pioneer of new trends in the world of horticulture – taking place this month from 23 to 27 May – has recently featured gardens that are recreations of the natural landscape, and for good reason. Where better to find inspiration than the world around us? English meadows are synonymous with summer, and I would challenge anyone not to feel uplifted by the beauty of a field of flowers. But unfortunately it’s estimated that 97% of our wildflower-rich grasslands were lost in the last century. Gardening is undeniably about taming nature and bending it to our will, but this doesn’t mean we can’t create our own area of meadow, whatever its size. Your own personal wildflower meadow, even if it’s just a small strip alongside an informal lawn, will look beautiful, benefit wildlife and, once established, be extremely low maintenance – simply needing an annual cut in autumn after flowering is over. Wild meadow flowers can bring so much to a space, in terms of movement, colour, the sound of grasshoppers, and the sight of bees and butterflies going about their pollinating work. When not in flower, an area of meadow looks like rough grass and blends well with the existing lawn, and when in its full majestic glory, it truly brings the space to life. A huge plus point when creating an area of meadow, as well as the aesthetic and practical qualities, is the very real benefit to wildlife. Pollinators and their habitats are under threat, and the statistics about the loss of bees are, quite frankly, terrifying. Because of pesticide use, bees – crucial pollinators of many of our food crops – have declined at an alarming rate. Quite simply, without bees, we could starve. Avon 90 THE BRISTOL MAGAZINE

|

MAY 2017

Wildlife Trust is one of eight local organisations working in partnership on the Get Bristol Buzzing project (avonwildlifetrust.org.uk/getbristolbuzzing) to raise awareness of the need for pollinators. Communications manager for the trust, Naomi Fuller, describes the importance of Bristol as an urban centre, and the need to give wildlife enough space in the city by creating wildlife corridors to bring species in from the surrounding countryside. “Even a small window box can help,” she says. “It’s about raising awareness of the need for wildlife-friendly gardening, and extending the season for pollinators. We’re trying to encourage people to connect with nature in these urban pockets.” If you want to help by creating a meadow at home, first choose a suitable spot. An open, sunny position is best, but there are plants that will cope with more shade. Meadows prefer poor soil, and the best way to reduce your soil’s fertility is to remove the top soil to a depth of around 10cm. Once you’ve got bare soil, raked to a fine tilth, the fun can start. Choose a wildflower seed mix and sow in autumn or, for more instant and reliable results, I’d recommend buying a ready-made meadow turf. Wildflower Turf (wildflowerturf.co.uk) has different turfs for different situations, including one for shade. It’s as easy to lay as a lawn and can be put down at any time of year, as long as the ground isn’t frozen. One of the many benefits to using turf is that it acts as a weed blanket, so you don’t need to worry about the less welcome weeds and grasses out-competing the meadow flowers. If you’re turning an existing lawn area into a meadow, another way is to sow seeds of yellow-rattle (Rhinanthus minor) – a parasitic plant that discourages grass from growing so meadow plants can thrive – and simply stop mowing. Managing a meadow couldn’t be easier. Simply leave it alone, and don’t mow between early April and August, or

Image above: English meadows are synonymous with summer and – once established – extremely lowmaintenance

Profile for MC Publishing Limited

The Bristol Magazine May 2017  

The Bristol Magazine is Bristol's biggest monthly guide to life and living in the city of Bristol

The Bristol Magazine May 2017  

The Bristol Magazine is Bristol's biggest monthly guide to life and living in the city of Bristol

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded