The wildflower meadow that you can see in the photos was initiated in 2000. We sowed grass and a perennial wild flower mix. Soil should not be fertilized, and it should be of poor vigour. Otherwise, grasses will grow too strongly.
Wildflower meadow, detail
Mow in mid-late August; leave the grass there for a few days to allow flower seeds to drop. Then remove the hay.
Repeat every year, sowing new varieties as desired.
It is a good idea to keep a diary of your meadow, recording what you have sown and what has grown. Often what is planted or sown doesn’t appear the next season, but only after a couple of years. Sometimes it appears, but in a different place with respect to where it was sown. The balance of grasses and flowers varies from year to year, affected by climate and presumably by various other factors.
By way of example, the following lists illustrate the development of our wildflower meadow in Suffolk.
Click on the thumbnail below to watch the video of this wildflower meadow:
Planted in June 2001: grass seed and wildflower seed mix.
Wildflower species planted:
Sown July 2002:
Birds nest orchid
Observed in 2002:
Lots of grasses
Tiny field vetch
Birds foot trefoil
Geranium (small flowers)
Plantain (two species)
Wildflower meadow, many different grasses
Planted in 2003/2004:
Observed in 2003:
Toadflax (gone 2009)
Observed in 2004:
Lots of cowslips (planted and from seed)
Planted in 2005:
Observed in 2005:
Lots of cowslips
Lots of dandelions
Observed in 2007:
Lots of cowslips
Lots of bugle
Observed in 2008:
Lots of cowslips
One good ragged robin
White bee orchid (not in wildflower meadow itself, but on a bank about 20 yards away)
A large clump of yellow rattle (not where sown in 2005)
Two clumps yellow bedstraw
One white bedstraw
Sown in 2008:
White bee orchid between birch and prunus serrula
More bee orchid seeds and yellow rattle
Observed in 2009:
Hundreds of cowslips.
Grass less vigorous
Lots of yellow rattle
The white bee orchid flowered again
Two bee orchids in the meadow
Four yellow bedstraw, one white
Observed in 2010:
As in 2009, but no bee orchids on the bank, and one on the field
More dog daisies and bedstraw (one white)
One Pyramid orchid
Planted in 2010:
Observed in 2011:
Long drought in spring, meadow poor. No orchids at all. Nothing of the things planted last year. Yellow rattle not good. Many geraniums.
Observed in 2012:
Much better, lots of rain in spring/early summer. FLowers all very good including rattle but no orchids. One weedy ragged robin, 4 bee orchids. Grass very lush. Geraniums look good. Lots of broomrape.
Dan Neuteboom from Suffolk Fruit and Trees illustrates the development of an apple tree, from its first year, right through until it has reached the age of 30 years. Dan provides some tips on what to watch out for – aphis, greenfly, deteriorating leaf colour – and how to correct the problems. He also describes the most important factor of all: ensuring that the tree is always in a pyramidal shape, so that light can penetrate into the centre of the tree, providing the energy necessary for growth and good fruit production. To attain trees of this quality and achieve rapid fruit production, it is important to purchase trees with a good structure: as supplied by RealEnglishFruit. Further information from www.realenglishfruit.co.uk
Click on the thumbnail below to watch the video:
1) Keep watering your fruit trees, particularly if they are carrying a crop .
2) Look at the trunk of the trees to ensure that the bark is not damaged by lawn mowers or strimmers.
3) Mice are increasing in numbers, particularly around fruit trees. Keep the area around the trunk, grass and weed-free, as this is the sort of shelter that mice like.
4) Fruits which will store, after harvesting, for a later date; raspberries, black currants, red currants, blue berries and gooseberries freeze beautifully, without loss of quality. Check to make sure you have enough space in your freezer.
5) Keep a diary of your growing experiences, particularly if something went wrong during the growing season.
6) All fruits are ripening off later this year, due to the cold slow start in March/April time. Do not pick too early, otherwise the fruit will shrivel and will lack flavour.
7) Carry out summer pruning where necessary. Plums, cherries, green gages, peaches, nectarines and apricots must not be pruned after the end of August in order to avoid infections of various tree diseases. Apples and pears can be pruned at any time during the winter months
8) August is an ideal month to improve drainage in areas where you intend to plant trees, and loosen the soil to a two-spade depth. This is particularly true if a hard layer of soil is found within the first 60 cm of the soil profile.
9) Let us know, as your tree supplier, if you intend to plant certain specific varieties of fruit. The more unusual varieties sell out quickly. We will have good quantities of standard varieties. However, we recommend contacting us right away in order to organize your new area of fruit trees. Click here for further information on our orchard packs.
10) Label your anti bird nets. This makes it is easier to use the right nets in the right place next season.
If only I had known that, I would have done so and so. This is how the saying goes. Well, there are three headlines which few people have any doubt about:
Cash will get shorter, food costs will continue to rise, as will the cost of petrol and diesel. Fortunately, for many people there are options to consider, to do something about the family’s cost of food. What’s more it is a pleasant, healthy and exciting undertaking; GROW YOUR OWN! Many of us will think that’s not for me, I don’t know anything about this.
In my experience Nature is very forgiving. As long as the will is there and an effort is made, the food in the form of fresh tasty produce will be appear from your garden, allotment or patio, sooner than you think. People in the UK are in a very fortunate position. A multitude of garden centres, friends and neighbours are only too pleased to help you to get started to make much better use of your garden, allotment or any piece of ground to start growing your own food. And at a low cost.
Sound second hand tools are available from car boot sales and charity shops. Second hand book shops can supply you with additional information on how to grow your fruit and vegetables. Just plant and sow at the right time of the year, go to your plot at least once a week and you will be amazed how nature provides to all who are trying.
To make a real success of it, think in the following basic terms. Make sure you feed your soil on an annual basis byadding organic matter. This can be farmyard manure or green manure from the council or your own compost from your compost bin. The other basic requirement is to be ready to supply moisture to your fruit and vegetables when periods of drought occur. For this you do not need lots and large volumes of water. Just make sure you only put the water where it is needed. Close to the plants and trees by using drip irrigation and in many instances backed up with a water preserving mulch such as pieces of old carpet, layers of newspaper or cardboard, wet hay or straw or such like.
As far as tree fruit is concerned, go for the smaller tree, if space is at a premium. If you want the trees to begin to crop the year after planting, go for the type of fruit you can grow anywhere in the UK. That is, apples on a semi dwarf rootstock. Make sure to ask for advice which varieties crop well and on a regular basis. If you have plenty of room then plant apples on rootstock MM106. Pears, plums and cherries all take longer to come into production. Only consider peaches and apricots if you have a south facing wall with a good additional water supply. As I said Nature is very forgiving and it will give you plenty of time during the growing season to steer things in the right direction. By that I mean keeping the weeds down in order for your fruit and vegetables to do well.
Now if you follow this approach, you will have the best and healthiest food. Far better and cheaper than your supermarket. What’s more, it is fun and relaxing to work with plants and trees. It will give you plenty of room to do things, the way you want to do them, at your own pace and in your own time.