The Flower Meadow – created by yourself

A flower meadow. That’s an image that inspires dreams, takes you back to childhood, to the feeling of freedom of a ramble through wild grasses to the various blooms… The flower meadow may, however, be created with a smaller space as well as on larger grounds.

Choose from numerous combinations of plants.
Take into account first of all the climate and the local specifics (look at what is growing around the roadside), the type of land (fresh or dry) and its exposure. Then, either create the mix yourself from the seeds of annual and perennial plants, or you buy a prepared mix, of which there is already a wealth of choice, in terms of colours, height of the plants, varieties that attract birds, insects, butterflies… Don’t go overboard with the grasses (10 to 15 % of the mix, with fescues, wooly holcus lanatus or velvet grass, wild oat…) and think of the leguminous plants that structure the soil (around 20% sainfoin, clover, puffballs…). For the main flowers, combine annual flowers (linen, zinnia, poppy…) and perennial flowers (daisy, yarrow, knapweed…).

The key to successful planting is preparing the earth.
It should be clean, free from pebbles and, most importantly, free from stumps of perennial plants or shrubs. You can clean it in two stages, leaving the seeds of undesirable varieties bud before a second hoeing (false seed-bed technique). If you flip the soil with a rotovator, make sure there is no low depth compact layer, which could disturb the rooting of the young seedlings. And even if you decide to keep the old lawn, it is still necessary to loosen the soil, to decompress it to allow for optimal germination. No frustration involved for gardeners who only have a small surface: try the seeds out in garden boxes on the balcony; it’s an alternative approach, which is poetic and colourful!

Sowing is done in the autumn or at the very beginning of spring. Broadcast the seeds, adding sand to ease the distribution of finer seeds (3 parts sand per 1 part seeds). Pack and lightly water. Autumn is also the time for planting bulbs that bud in the spring. Add woodland daffodils and hyacinths to fresh soil, decorative alliums and Byzantine gladioli to dry soil; they will surprise you in March and April.

Maintenance is limited to mowing at the end of the summer, perhaps in the autumn, the essential thing being that the seeds are formed and have already fallen on the soil. Over a large space, don’t hesitate to use the lawnmower during the Summer, to trace out an inviting path for strolling … Mowing also allows you to eliminate all the growth of shrubs, whose seeds were carried by the wind or by birds. To ensure that the meadow survives, the environment must be kept open. Do not leave any residues of mowing in the area, which will enrich the earth. Because, if you want to maintain this lovely diversity, you will need to maintain a rather poor earth.

Caroline Géneau
VIKING Garden-Expert

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