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Sara Draycott

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A sustainable alternative; wildflower meadow by Sabatino Urzo at RHS Garden Wisley

Posted by Sara Draycott on 25 Jun 2013 at 02:54 PM


Finally the temperature is increasing this month; on the 19th of June we had the warmest week recorded this year so far here at Wisley. That means summer is knocking on our door. This month I would like to share a little task and development of last year's programme. I am quite sure we are all familiar with flower meadow-mania and revolutionary trend across the country. Flower meadows are a fantastic solution to traditional borders or lawns as they epitomise a calming place for the eye to rest. We are all getting very animated at the idea of creating one. A remote area of the garden not too far from Wisley Lane by the edge of a woodland environment needed to be revitalised with a flower meadow strategy. 

 
Fig. 1 Perennial meadow

The area of circa 200 metre square in a sheltered location was my first meadow garden created here in UK. If you are thinking of creating one, as a gardener and agronomist I would advise you to examine your soil as this aspect is one of the key points of the process. If you're not sure, the RHS can help you with that as we have a soil analysis service, as well as offering advice on the type of flower mix to sow. After a soil examination and site inspections I started to investigate the right blend for the site. The space required a mixture of seeds of shady environment adaptable to a heavy soil structure. The blend selected is a perennial meadow with 20% of native wildflower seeds and 80% native wild grasses.


Fig. 2 Silene dioica red campion

Perennial meadows thrive best on poor soils because the grasses compete less with the wildflowers. In a rich soil, it is worth removing the top layer and sowing directly into dug or rotovated sub-soil. I broadcasted the seeds during April 2012 with a sowing rate of 4g per square metre and only after one year the flower show will look at its best. The blend is designed to succeed throughout the seasons giving us a fine vision and enjoyment as long as possible. As Mother Nature is hard to control sometimes you will have to keep an eye on further weeds that proudly will try to grow over the flower combination and blend selected. As following you will find information of the mixture used.


Common name Latin name
Agrimony Agrimonia eupatoria

Garlic Mustard Alliaria petiolata

Ramsons Allium ursinum

Wild Angelica Angelica sylvestris

Nettle-leaved bellflower  Campanula trachelium

Foxglove Digitalis purpurea

Teasel Dipsacus fullonum

Meadowsweet Filipendula ulmaria

Hedge bedstraw Galium mollugo

Wood avens Geum urbanum

Bluebell Hyacynthoides non-scripta

Perforate St. John’s wort Hypericum perforatum

Selfheal Prunella vulgaris

Red campion Silene dioica

Betony Stachys officinalis

Greater stitchwort Stellaria holostea

Upright hedge parsley Torilis japonica

Wood false brome  Brachypodium sylvaticum


Fig. 3 Perennial Meadow


Why create a flower meadow?

On my understanding now, meadows can be whatever you want them to be. They are rich, full of complexity, beneficial for the biodiversity, sustainability and ecology. They require less maintenance and resource than lawns and borders; they are enjoyable and animated at the same time. I am very enthusiastic about the idea of creating a new one. We'll see, keep following us!


Happy Gardening
Sabatino Urzo

Comments

garden design student said:

My BSc dissertation research involved the availability of resources to create annual and perennial flower meadows such as the ones created by Professors Nigel Dunnett and James Hitchmough at the Olympic Park and their applicability on a garden scale. I grew my own meadow from Pictorial Meadows (TM) seed for research and exhibited it in a recent show garden. I am very interested in your project.

on 26 Jun 2013 at 11:58 AM

garden design student said:

My BSc dissertation research involved investigating the annual and perennial flower meadows such as the ones created by Professors Nigel Dunnett and James Hitchmough at the Olympic Park, attitudes towards them, available resources and their applicability on a garden scale. I grew my own meadow using 'Pictorial Meadows'(TM) seed mixes both for practical research and a show garden. I am very interested in your project.

on 26 Jun 2013 at 12:06 PM

Sara Draycott said:

Hello there, thank you for sharing your thought with us. Absolutely, meadows are unquestionably a futuristic approach to generate friendly, liveable spaces near our homes, parks and gardens. Here at Wisley there are different examples of it. Recently, James Hitchmough came along to create one with perennial plants from summer rainfall areas of South Africa (Drakensberg Mountains). I had the honour to see James`s technique of producing meadow gardens and the chance to understand how meadows may be whatever you want them to be. For this reason this science in unequivocally exciting and inspirational. Come along to see them.  – Sabatino Urzo

on 01 Jul 2013 at 04:46 PM

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A sustainable alternative; wildflower meadow by Sabatino Urzo at RHS Garden Wisley - Sara Draycott

on 12 Sep 2014 at 09:00 AM

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A sustainable alternative; wildflower meadow by Sabatino Urzo at RHS Garden Wisley - Sara Draycott

on 11 Oct 2014 at 07:09 PM