Garden Progress

Poppies!

This week, after a few showers of rain, the meadow has started to flower. I noticed one buttercup last week, then one daisy and, a couple of mornings ago, several poppies – we have poppies!! I was very excited.

I was beginning to wonder if we’d have any flowers this year. It was only a few weeks ago that I spent an afternoon on Google, with my meadow seed packet in hand, to see if any of the leaves growing in my meadow were actually the flowers on the packet. I was also intrigued to find out what the large leafy plant was, dotted around the meadow (you probably can see straight away, but I was focusing on my seed packet, ahem!)

Is that a sunflower in my meadow?
Is that a sunflower in my meadow?

Here are the results of my research.

It looks like I do have Autumn Hawkbit, only one is flowering (pic on the right) at the moment but there are others in bud. It looks very similar to a Dandelion but the leaves are more serrated and the flowers are smaller. I think we have Dandelion too, which will need to be removed, if I can reach them without trampling or disturbing the other plants.

There’s one tall plant all on it’s own, which could possibly be Betony? Hopefully it will flower very soon and I can say yes or no for definite.

Birdsfoot Trefoil
Birdsfoot Trefoil

I love Birdsfoot Trefoil when I see it in the wild but I can’t tell if I have any or not. Although it does flower from May to September, so I’ll be looking out for those little yellow flowers.

Corn Poppy
Corn Poppy

Yes, I have lots of Corn Poppy and they are making me very happy. The petals only seem to last a day but there are lots in bud so I should be smiling for a few weeks.

A Poppy!
A Poppy!
Cowslip
Cowslip

Cowslip is another plant I love and I nearly bought some of these for the woodland bed at the front (I may still do!). I have some leaves in the meadow that could be Cowslip but they could also be several other things. They’re spring flowering, so I have my fingers crossed for next year.

Lady's Bedstraw
Lady’s Bedstraw

Lady’s Bedstraw flowers around this time of year. We definitely haven’t got the flowers yet and I can’t see any of the leaves.

Lesser Knapweed
Lesser Knapweed

There are plenty of leaves that look similar to this, but lots of the other meadow flowers in the seed mix also have similar leaves. I can’t wait to have Lesser Knapweed flowering, maybe there’s time for one or two to appear?

It’s been a fabulous year for buttercups on the road sides and in the fields around here. They’ve been very tall and prolific, some fields completed filled with them. I’ve had one in my meadow, it was the first flower to make an appearance (besides the Ribwort – see further down), snuggling up against the apple tree trunk.

Meadow Vetchling
Meadow Vetchling

Again, I don’t know if this is showing in the meadow this year as I can’t distinguish the leaves. It flowers May to August so I don’t think we’ll see this and it’s not a plant I recognise. To me it looks like a taller version of Birdsfoot Trefoil, so this is another one I can’t wait to see.

Musk Mallow
Musk Mallow

How beautiful is this plant? Another one to look out for next year.

My absolute favourite flowers are Daisies, I’ve loved them for as long as I can remember. I made sure Daisies were included in the seed mix before I bought it and I plan to add more if not enough come up next year. I have one! It’s been flowering for at least a week now. I’m willing a few more to flower before the autumn.

There is an abundance of Ribwort, it’s all over the meadow, the most successful of the seeds. It’s not the prettiest but the bees and butterflies love it.

There are lots of leaves that could be Sorrell but they could also be dock from disturbed dormant seed when we prepared the area for the meadow.

It looks like we have Wild Carrot coming through but as it’s a biennial, this beautiful tall, graceful flower will only get better as it establishes.

I have no idea if we have any Ragged Robin, Self Heal, White Campion or Yellow Rattle. Again, I have high hopes for next year. Seeing all these images I can let my imagination run wild (wild! Haha!) and visualise what it will look like; a mixture of white, yellow and mauve flowers of varying heights….just beautiful.

The last flower in the seed mix is Yarrow. We have a big clump of Yarrow, but not in the meadow. Our neighbour asked if we’d like some Yarrow about 6 weeks ago. Of course I said yes! It arrived in a bin liner at the bottom of the drive and I just plonked it in the soil in the raised bed at the back of the meadow (an area we’ve not decided what to do with yet – vegetables, a pond, sunflowers????) and it just settled in without any care or attention. It has tiny circular yellow flowers which are a joy to study up close and a favourite of the ladybirds.

Yarrow Flowers
Yarrow Flowers

Lastly, the imposter. The random plants that seem to be thriving in the meadow. They look nothing like any of the plants above. It was Roger who said, “They look like sunflowers to me.” Of course they are, duh! Kindly sowed by the birds.

Garden Progress, Uncategorized

MIA Catch Up 3 – THE Meadow!

It’s been 8 weeks since I seeded the meadow.

It’s making steady progress, in patches. Despite my careful measuring out of the seed and the area itself, some parts are very dense and there are patches that are bare.

I wrote about the preparation in May Madness, Mayhem and Wildflower Meadows.May Madness, Mayhem and Wildflower Meadows.

Stepping stones laid
Stepping stones to the raised bed at the end of the garden

I’ve been giving it a helping hand whilst the weather has been so dry and hot as it gets full sun for most of the day. I watered it every other evening and cut down to every third. I know, natural wildflower meadows have to survive no matter what, but I was late seeding this meadow and I’m encouraging a few flowers to appear before autumn.

It will have to survive as nature intended now though as a hosepipe ban will be enforced in just over a week.

The Jackdaws have had no respect for the fledgling meadow. They learnt how to balance on the bird feeder quite a while ago. Their technique is to take turns in flying at it, bashing their beaks into the openings for as long as they can hold on whilst the others grab the seed that has fallen. The squabbling and scrabbling that ensues means bare, trampled patches under the feeder.

It also means we have a few random sunflowers throughout the meadow! I spent ages on the internet carefully looking up the flowers listed on the wildflower meadow seed packet, to see what these tall, fast growing flowers were (I’ll put the pictures of my research up on my next post). Nothing matched! I was puzzled. Then Roger said, “They look like sunflowers to me”. Of course!!!

Is that a sunflower in my meadow?
Is that a sunflower in my meadow?

Anyway…progress pictures…at 5 weeks after seeding…

Meadow, top right - 5 weeks after seeding
Meadow, top right – 5 weeks after seeding
Close up meadow, under the apple tree - 5 weeks from seed
Close up meadow, under the apple tree – 5 weeks from seed

 

Meadow, left side - 5 weeks from seeding
Meadow, left side – 5 weeks from seeding
Meadow, top left - 5 weeks from seeding
Meadow, top left – 5 weeks from seeding
Meadow, along the path - 5 weeks from seed
Meadow, along the path – 5 weeks from seed

The weekend just gone was the 8 week seeding anniversary…there’s plenty of Ribwort, one buttercup and some poppies about to pop..

First buttercup - 8 weeks after seeding
First buttercup – 8 weeks after seeding
Meadow, left side - 8 weeks after seeding
Meadow, left side – 8 weeks after seeding
Close up meadow - 8 weeks after seeding
Close up meadow – 8 weeks after seeding
Close up meadow by a pathing stone - 8 weeks after seeding
Close up meadow by a pathing stone – 8 weeks after seeding
Meadow, bottom left - 8 weeks after seeding
Meadow, bottom left – 8 weeks after seeding
Garden Progress

May Madness, Mayhem and Wildflower Meadows

Yesterday we sowed a wildflower meadow in our back garden. Which sounds very simple but it’s been over a month of hard work in preparation. At the same time we had scaffolding put up around the entire house for new windows, guttering and fascia boards as well as some chimney and roof repairs. A busy household of men who were powered by sugared tea (we ran out of sugar!).

Scaffolding in place
Scaffolding in place

Last time I wrote here, we were getting ready for a delivery of two tonnes of reclaimed stone, to build a stone retaining wall which would replace the log one already in place. The stone was delivered at the bottom of our very steep drive on a sunny morning in early May. I moved it, a couple of stones at a time, off the public path to a few metres up the drive, Roger then wheelbarrowed it up to the back garden. It was very hot work.

Roger then had fun creating a giant jigsaw, choosing stones from the spread on the lawn to build a wall. He did a dry run first, before cementing anything in.

Back garden before May work
Back garden before all of the work done in May. Dry run of the retaining wall.

Roger had booked a week of “holiday” from work to build the wall and prepare the garden for the wildflower meadow. I started a new job the day the scaffolding went up (not on purpose, it was just one of those things) which added to the mayhem, so it was all down to him. Hardly a rest, and he’d also declined an offer of a week on the beach in Spain! The weather here was the best we could ask for, so the hard work continued.

Drainage in place
Drainage in place
Wall almost complete
Wall almost complete, just the coping stones to be put into place.

The wall looks fabulous, even better the the original stone retaining walls throughout our front and back gardens. But that wasn’t the end, next on the list was removing the uneven turf. Roger hired a petrol driven turf cutter but it was still incredibly hard work due to the incline, unevenness and compacted clay soil. We decided to keep the lower lawn and will try to revive it into something that actually resembles a lawn! [Our original plan was to make this into a low growing wildflower meadow that would only need cutting about every 3 weeks.]

Now it was time to lay some stepping stones through the meadow to the raised bed at the end of the garden. It was another job very well done.

Stepping stones laid
Stepping stones to the raised bed at the end of the garden

Next job…to turn over the hard compacted soil to remove the remains of the turf and weeds, and as it turned out, glass, rocks and old brick wall! I was able to help with this by the end of the week. Back breaking!!! We eventually finished it Sunday morning. I then raked it over as level as I could. Finally, it was time to sow the seed.

First I divided the area into equal(ish) sections. I couldn’t find my metre stick or any string, so I used a broom and a ball of wool.

Dividing up the area ready to sow wildflower meadow seeds
Dividing up the area ready to sow wildflower meadow seeds

I’d ordered native wildflower meadow seed for clay soil from Meadowmainia. It contains 21 wildflowers and 7 grasses. It’s a bit late to sow this year but I’m sure something will come up and we can expect a better meadow next year. I’m excited to see it developing over the years. I’m prepared to add plug plants if necessary. Best of all, it only needs to be strimmed/mowed twice a year.

I had 12 sections marked out. so I divided the seed into 6, then 12, in the conservatory. A red damselfly joined me!

I tried to sow the seed as evenly as I could but it was harder than I expected. I may well have a patchy meadow! After sowing I trod over each section. This was also harder than I expected and took a lot longer than I thought it would. We were expecting rain. The BBC said 1pm, then 3pm, then 7pm, then 11pm. So I soaked the area with the hose, to encourage germination, late evening as the rain didn’t look like it would arrive. It did eventually rain very lightly but barely anything. Only a few miles miles away, it rained hard and places became flooded. How lucky are we this week and this weekend?!

This is how our back garden looks now.

Waiting for the wildflower meadow seed to germinate
Wildflower meadow seed sown and trodden in – phew!

We are very happy!

The neighbours have been very complimentary.

Which leaves today, Bank Holiday Monday, free for a motorbike ride.