Views:6 Author:Clare Foggett Publish Time: 2019-03-28 Origin:Site
“There is something magical about March. Here at Fairlight Hall the driveway is festooned with daffodils, there is bird song throughout the gardens and we can see spring sunshine sparkling on the English Channel. The seeds sown in February are now seedlings and are growing so strongly there is a real buzz in the air at the start of the growing season.
Daffodil in bloom on the driveway
At Fairlight Hall we have both native wildflower meadows, which are full of native early purple orchids, primula, cornflowers and many more species, and a wonderful pictorial meadow. They’re both loved by wildlife and humans alike but are quite different. The native meadow is solely for native meadow flowers, and the pictorial meadow is a mixture of annual flowering plants, which can be native flowers or exotics, chosen for their vivid colours to make a big impact on the eye. You might be familiar with the pictorial meadows at the London Olympics 2012.
This year as part of my plan for March, I am renovating our beautiful pictorial meadow. In the summer months it is filled will a sea of gold and orange flowers but this year it needs a little work to remove some mint and bindweed that has crept in.
John Myers weeds, rotavates, digs and sows the pictorial meadow
We are an organically minded garden so we do not use weed killers, and we have to put in a little elbow grease to prepare the meadow for sowing this month. Firstly we began by cutting down all of last year’s growth, except the patches of mint and bindweed. We left these visible, so that we could clearly see the worst effected areas, then we dug out all of the mint by hand and took out the bindweed that was visible, along with any other weeds. All the weeds were sent to be deposed of professionally, as composting weeds shouldn’t be attempted and is likely to spread the problem throughout your garden.
Once the mint and bindweed was removed, we rotavated the whole meadow to make it easier to dig over and then worked our way forking and digging through the area, making sure anything we had missed on our first wave was taken out. Once we’d dug over the entire area, which is 53m long, we did a triple check for any rough bits of bindweed and mint on the surface of the soil. After this we started to tread the soil before raking it to a fine tilth to make a seed bed ready to sow our mixture of annual seed and added an edge, to give a good definition between the lawn and the meadow.
At Fairlight Hall we make up our own mixture for the pictorial meadow. It includes Californian poppies (eschscholzia), Coreopsis tinctoria and pot marigolds (calendula), which we sow in March, so it has time to be at its best in the summer months. Once we have sown the seed, all we need to do is wait and pick out the occasional weed.
Coreopsis tinctoria in the pictorial meadow.
If you’d like your own pictorial meadow, you don’t need masses of space, you can fill a section of your garden no matter how small with wonderful pictorial meadow flowers, or even a window box. All you will need is a seed mixture that you can acquire from a number of good suppliers that specialise in pictorial meadow seed. You will be able to enjoy not only their fabulous flowers, but the wildlife that will visit them, from pollinators to birds. At Fairlight Hall we are regularly visited by a flock of goldfinches that love to spend time in and around ours. I look forward to the first flush of green as the seeds start to germinate by the end of March.”
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