Last year I designed a garden for two wildlife-loving clients which included a wildflower meadow surrounding a mini-woodland of birch and rowan trees. I knew that the soil in the garden was a free-draining, fertile, loam with a high weed-seed burden, as the garden had been allowed to grow wild for a number of years. Establishing a successful wildflower meadow from seed requires patience and careful weeding for the first few years, to avoid over-run by thug-like weeds, and on fertile soil grasses can dominate. So, I decided to use wildflower turf, and this is how it worked out:
Wildflower turf is supplied in rolls, just like grass turf, and is laid onto the prepared soil like a carpet. The mix of grasses and wildflowers are grown on a netting substrate, which the suppliers simply roll up and stack onto pallets for transportation. Wildflower turf is best laid in either spring or autumn – in this case it was laid in early September 2010.
The newly laid wildflower turf formed an attractive green sward under the trees and there were some flowers within a couple of weeks. As it was a dry autumn the clients watered the turf once a week until the Scottish winter rains set in.
By May 2011 the wildflowers had reached a height of about 30 cm and delighted the clients with a purple-blue haze under the trees. In early June, when I visited the garden, the meadow was nearing 60 cm and the ox-eye daisies were predominating. It was truly a sight to behold! The next species to emerge will be the yellow-flowered yarrow, and the meadow will transform once more.
The matting on which the wildflower sward is grown helps to keep any existing weeds in the soil at bay, but is it still very important to clear the ground as much as possible before laying the turf. This garden was sprayed repeatedly with a glyphosphate-based weedkiller before any planting was attempted.
Maintenance of the meadow is very simple – an annual cut in autumn is all that is required, once the wildflowers have set and dropped their seeds.
Creating a meadow using wildflower turf is much more expensive using seed, but for time-poor clients looking for quick results, I think this is definitely the way to go. I can’t wait to see how it develops of the next few seasons! I used wildflower turf from www.wildflowerturf.co.uk.