This year we decided to plant a pictorial meadow – pictorial because, though it looks similar to a wild flower meadow, the flowers are not all wild. We were just in time. I see that our Classic Mix from Pictorial Meadows (www.pictorialmeadows.co.uk) now has a waiting list following a TV showing.
It took quite a bit of preparation to plant the half-acre underneath our new orchard. The existing grass had to be killed by glysophate, then scraped off with a machine. The soil was then tilled and tilthed before the seeds could be planted, mixed with sand so that you could see where they had fallen. We did this on April 3rd, two days before the hosepipe ban came into effect. It rained the next day and we were delighted that conditions were just right. Since then it has rained every day but, fingers crossed, the seeds have not been washed away since tiny sprouts began to appear a couple of weeks later.
The supplier tells us that the seeds are too small to interest birds but that rabbits will probably munch on the flowers. They also say that we’ll need to re-sow each year to get the best display. The packet of seeds for the whole area – about the size of a bag of flour – was not cheap but it’s worth asking for a discount for quantity.
We are promised that the flowers will appear in June, a mix of white, blue, pink and red for summer. By autumn the flowers will be suitably seasonal in reds, oranges and yellows. The varieties have charming names: Shirley poppy, cornflower, fairy toadflax, tickseed, corn marigold and black-eyed Susan among them.
Clearly flowery meadows are smart, perhaps because we feel nostalgic for colourful old corn fields when poppies and cornflowers grew among the wheat and barley. If farmers won’t allow nature to brighten up the countryside, we can do the job (artificially) ourselves.