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.
A good look at your fruit trees once a week is all its take for your fruit trees to do well.
Trees can look after themselves reasonably well once they have been in the ground for a year or two. It is the first 2 to 3 years when the trees need a helping hand from time to time. This has all to do with the fact that trees, like everything else that grows in your garden, will need to adjust to the prevailing conditions. By that I mean it will take time for the various predators to settle either in or close by your trees to keep the various pests under control. For that reason young trees often suffer from aphid attack at this time of the year. As soon as you notice that some leaves are beginning to curl, open the leaves up. If aphids are present then you have to deal with this. You can either try to remove them with water or organic soap. Or your garden centre will have a wide variety of liquids, organic or otherwise to deal with this problem. You can also try to cut the affected leaves off and put them in the non recycling bin.
In my experience, orchard hygiene and companion planting are the two most important factors in keeping pest and disease pretty well under control, without having to resort to sprays and various chemicals. Patio trees are often found to be in very good condition. The simple reason is that as a matter of routine any diseased or distorted leaves have been regularly removed during the growing season, from the patio.
Therefore it is a very good habit not to let things drop on the ground or anywhere near the trees, but to put diseased twigs or leaves in the non recycling bin. In that way one avoids a build up of various afflictions.
Fruit that has dropped, or rotting fruit, must not be left under the trees.
If your trees are in the chicken run then things become easier still, as the chickens are fond not only of the dropped fruit but also remove lots of grubs and caterpillars which otherwise would have had a go at the ripening fruit.
Many of the scab and mildew spores overwinter on fallen autumn leaves and twigs. To avoid re-infection in the following spring, it pays to remove and dispose of the old leaves by the end of November/ December. From that point of view it is a good move to tie around the trunks of the trees proper grease bands. Most garden centres stock them. It will stop various insects such as the winter moth from crawling up the trunk of the trees and causing damage to foliage and young fruitlets.
As mentioned earlier, over the medium term it is an excellent idea to build up the numbers of predators of the various pests which may harm the fruit and the leaves. Each predator has its own specific host plant, tree or bush. If you have the room to grow these various plants, then the various pests will be kept under control by natural means.
Hover flies, lacewings and ladybirds are all very active in keeping various pests such as aphids and red spider mite at a low level. Nasturtiums, marigolds and fennel attract hover flies into the garden. Earwigs consume many young aphids in various stages of developments. They like to overwinter in upturned flower pots filled with straw or short cut bundles of open bamboo canes.
Provided one is in the routine of feeding small birds such as blue tits and long tail tits during the winter months, these little birds consume lots of grubs and caterpillars which otherwise would have found their way into the fruits. Finally, garlic sprays are abhorrent to many insects. These can be obtained from most garden centres, in case the predator numbers in a particular season are at a low level.