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A guide to sowing ornamental flower meadows

Step 1: Weed Control

Remove all the existing plants and any weeds from the area, and then till the soil (mechanically for a larger area)

We recommend tilling in order to bury existing vegetation under a fresh layer of soil.

Step 2: Loosening the soil

Loosen compacted soil. Best results are obtained if the soil is cultivated by digging, tilling or rotavating to a depth of at least 20 cm. The upper soil layer should be as fine as possible to receive the seeds. If necessary, work the soil with a cultivating tool and then rake or till to obtain a fine tilth.

The final soil preparation should be done the day you plan to sow so that weed seeds do not germinate prior to sowing.

Step 3: Sowing

Sowing flower mixtures is similar to sowing a lawn. However, do not rake over the seeds, as this would plough in the small seeds and prevent them from germinating.

Most of the seeds are very small. Sowing on the surface will ensure that the smallest seeds as well as the larger ones remain in the top half-centimetre. A fine tilth promotes good contact of seeds with the soil, and will result in good germination.

Step 4: Rolling

If available use a roller to pack down the soil to ensure that the seeds make contact with the soil. The roller also helps the soil retain moisture. For smaller areas tamp down with a flat surface (we use an old tea tray!)

Step 5: Follow-up

It is very important to monitor the weather for spring sowing. Weather conditions will determine the date of sowing your meadow if you do not plan to water. Seeds germinate best when the soil temperature is around 15 to 16°C with a supply of water equivalent to 10 mm. Seed germination should take place as soon as possible so that the seedlings can quickly establish and prevent weeds from sprouting. With 5-10g of flower seeds per sq m, the surface will be fully covered.

The key to success will be rainfall, or watering at the right time:

Rain or supply of water just after sowing

  •          Keep the area moist for 3 to 4 days (only on the surface, 1 to 2 mm/day)
  •          When seedlings appear, water more heavily, 10 mm
  •          Repeat this process every 5-7 days if it does not rain
  •          After 6 weeks, it is no longer necessary to water

It is important for the conditions to be right at the time of planting to keep the area low-maintenance. Ideally wait until a long rainy period is forecast to sow your seeds.

Weed control is only possible in the first weeks after planting. As soon as the plants are taller than 40 cm it becomes impractical.

It is important to note that if the soil is properly prepared prior to planting and sprouting, there should be no need for weed control.

Step 6: Maintenance

The only maintenance required is mowing once a year. When the plants have completed their flowering cycle, you may want to remove the faded parts depending on the remaining vegetation. In most cases, cutting back to around 10cm is enough.

Maintenance of annual meadows

Annual meadows (designed primarily for a magnificent display of colour and for picking purposes) are not intended to last for several years. Mowing should take place when flowering comes to an end, but depending on the weather flowering may go on into October or November, in which case mowing may be done at the end of the year when the weather first turns cold.

Maintenance of perennial meadows

Wildflower and perennial meadows are planted for two years minimum, and maintenance should:

  •          Encourage re-seeding of annuals
  •          Maintain the population of perennials

Spring planting (early April) will require mowing between mid and late September. Regrowth in the second year will bloom in April and one mowing should be done around mid- July, to encourage a second flowering. Your meadow will look dry for a couple of weeks, but this will allow the seeds to mature. The mowing period is the same for an autumn planting.

 

 

 










 


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Here is a photo I took tonight of the blue - white - red wildflowers you sent us, making up the French flag as part of the celebration of the Tour de France passing here next weekend.  

Charles Prest