How To Guides and Frequently Asked Questions

Here you’ll find a collection of How To Guides and answers to commonly asked questions. Click on the question to reveal the answer.

Here I will post a copy of my wild flower seeding instructions for my unique ‘annual wild flower seed mix’. I will present it just as it appears in each packet of seeds that you might order from me.

Instructions for creating your annual wild flower area

These are the methods I use when creating my bright and colourful annual flower areas.

Within the area to be seeded kill off any existing vegetation. You can achieve this by placing a piece of old carpet or black plastic etc on top of the area to stop light reaching the ground, after a few weeks the vegetation beneath should have died away leaving bare soil. Alternatively for larger areas spray off existing grass or weeds with Glyphosate (Roundup) weed-killer. Two weeks after spraying, cut the weeds as tight to the ground as possible and remove the cuttings. I only advise the use of Glyphosate as some other weed-killers do not break down on contact with the soil and so remain active to kill or weaken the future germinating seedlings. It is also the least harmful chemical weed-killer to use from a wildlife perspective.

The best time for sowing the annuals is between September and the end of May or to the end of June if we have a long cold spring. This is to ensure you benefit from a good long flowering season during the summer. The later you sow them after this the later in the summer they will begin flowering. If you find that you are not able to sow the seeds as quickly as you had hoped, or have seed left over that cannot be used straight away, do not panic. As long as you ensure the seed is stored in a cool and dry place it will be viable for 12 months or more.

 

You now have two options:

 Either

  • Broadcast the seeds evenly directly onto the surface of bare ground. It is not essential to cultivate the ground first, but in my experience you get a better response if you scatter them onto loose soil. For smaller areas I favour spreading over the top of your bare ground a top dressing about 1 inch thick made up of multi-purpose compost mixed with one third sharp sand. This creates a great germination bed but it is not thick enough to prevent the seedlings getting their roots into the firmer ground beneath as they get bigger. This is useful because the compost layer tends to be quite light and dries out easily whereas the firmer ground beneath will not. To speed up their growth water the seeds/seedlings in the evening in dry weather and you will have them growing and flowering a lot quicker.  For larger areas do as I suggest below.

 

OR

 

  • Cultivate the ground. Create a fairly fine seedbed but be aware that when cultivating ground you will bring to the surface weed seeds from within the soil which will germinate along with your sown seeds in the spring. These may not be a problem amongst your annual flowers but if you are concerned then cultivate the ground early and allow some of the weed seeds to germinate first and then carry out the weed control procedure outlined above before seeding. If you use brought in soil for your seedbed, the same advice applies.

 

Seeding. If seeding by hand, divide up the seed packet and your plot into quarters and this way you will get early warning if you are sowing too thickly and are likely to run out of seed before you reach the end of your plot! If you have scales to measure 2 grams accurately, do this and then between your fingers carefully scatter that quantity of seed over a marked 1 metre x 1 metre square of flat material such as a cardboard or plastic sheet etc. By doing this you will get to see the seed pattern/quantity that you should be using when sowing at 2 grams per square metre. You will also get an opportunity to see the array of different seed shapes and sizes as many are very tiny and hardly noticeable from looking at the packet. Save the seed from this exercise to sow with the others. If you are using a mechanical spreader, calibrate it to output at 2 grams per square metre.

I would encourage you to take the time to put some seed on a piece of plain white paper and use a magnifying glass to see their wonderful variety of shape and size. Even more amazing is looking at them under a microscope at x20 magnification – this is how I check and identify seeds – tiny round seeds that look the same to the naked eye can be from several different species and will have a very different appearance when magnified x20. At this magnification they can be seen for what they are, some of Mother Nature’s incredibly beautiful designs!

Do not cover with soil. Don’t worry about birds eating your wild flower seeds, I have never found them to be a problem. However if you will have wild rabbits entering the seeded area then do protect it from them i.e. fence them out using rabbit netting, as they love young seedlings and will eat them before you even notice your seeds have germinated and you will end up with very few wild flower species or large bare areas.

When will the wild flowers appear? If you sow in the autumn (from September) some of the plants will germinate within a month, particularly the Corncockle (stocky, hairy little seedlings) they will survive the winter quite happily. Most of the plants will germinate from April and May depending upon rain and temperature. Flowering will usually start anytime from May onwards and will continue right through the spring and summer and often well into the autumn.

Future management to keep your wild flower area healthy. Annual wild flowers need to create new plants from seed every year (unlike most of the flowers in my other seed mixes, which contain perennial species). So at the end of the summer or during the autumn cut and clear the wild flower area, knocking any seeds still present within their pods to the ground and remove any weeds (you can spray the area with Roundup to clear any grass etc as it will not effect the seeds present). Then you can either trust that enough seed has been spread from the year’s flowers to generate a new population of annuals next year or you can spread some fresh seed onto the soil.

If you follow these simple instructions your wild flower area should be a blaze of colour and bring you much pleasure and fascination.

 Colin Reader

www.wildflowerlawnsandmeadows.com

With good preparation you should not have many weeds to deal with in a new wild flower area, however should you be the owner of an old wild flower grassland which has had a ‘mixed past’ as regards management…perhaps it has not been cut at all or has been annually cut with the cuttings being left to rot in the field, then weed issues can arise. Unfortunately not all weed issues can be dealt with by hand pulling, especially if the area is large and weeds many. Weed situations within wild flower grasslands can often be a result of inappropriate management and a change in management can sometimes resolve the weed problem.

I saw the need to study chemical weed control within wild flower situations after witnessing time and time again the damaging effects of landowners or contractors carrying out well intentioned but inappropriate spraying within meadows which previously contained wild flower interest but subsequent to which, contained a lot less. It was usually docks or thistles that were the intended target. After obtaining my chemical weed control qualifications (PA1 & PA6) I set about trialling different chemical products within wild flower situations (I created wild flower areas especially for these trials) to test just how specific many of the chemicals on the market were in dealing with the weeds they were being sold to treat and just as importantly what effects they had on so called non target species, in this case our native wild flowers. I quickly learnt that there are virtually no herbicides (well ok I did find one!) which you can blanket spray over a wild flower meadow without destroying a large proportion of the wild flower species. Even though a herbicide product label may say that it is a specific Thistle or Dock killer it does not mean that it will not kill a whole load of other plant species as well, which sadly is not understood by many people when they use the product.

Broadly speaking all chemical herbicides were developed for the agricultural, horticultural and to a lesser extent forestry industries, absolutely none have been developed with consideration to wild flower conservation! However don’t let this scare you…it is merely the lack of information to guide people on appropriate and judicious use in wild flower situations which puts such grasslands at risk. There is a place for chemical weed control as I alluded to at the beginning of this page and indeed I have seen almost as many wild flower grasslands lost from neglect and lack of weed control as I have from ill advised spraying activities. In fact I could not have produced some of my largest and finest wild flower meadows (including the one set as the background for this webpage) without the use of a carefully chosen and applied herbicide. Many of my meadows are now recognised by conservation organisations as very important sites for wildlife with some supporting nationally endangered species (‘Red Data Book’ species)….not bad when six years previous they were just agricultural grassland with no wildlife interest at all. Which just goes to show sometimes you need to take certain steps to produce a greater good and although I would not advocate chemical weed control in all situations there is certainly a place for it if carried out knowledgeably and responsibly and usually via a knapsack using ‘spot treatment’ rather than a blanket spray.

 

To assist you with your wild flower grassland:

If you need advice on weed control or the management of wild flower grassland I provide an advisory service – a visit to your site to assess the situation and guide you on the actions you need to take. Fee £45-00 per hour plus vat, to include travelling to site. Please contact me if you wish to discuss this service.

Wild Flower Lawns & Meadows

www.wildflowerlawnsandmeadows.com

Instructions for planting your bulbs

My bulb collections will be happy in virtually any location but they are particularly handy for the more shaded areas of your garden, except for the fragrant Wild Tulip which will flower better in the more open sunny areas. My individual species can be chosen when you wish to make up your own collection or use just one or two species for your planting.

Many bulbs do need to settle in once planted and so not all will flower in their first year but all should from their second year

 

Species as bulbs

Top of bulb planting depth

Planting density*

Snowdrop

2 inches

20/m2

Wild Daffodil

2 inches

15/m2

Crocus

3 inches

50/m2

Wild Tulip

2 inches

15/m2

Snake’s Head Fritillary

2 inches

20/m2

English Bluebell

2 inches

To avoid a blue mould which can develop on the outside of a bluebell bulb they are best stored in the fridge to avoid sweating and ideally planted within 7 days of receipt. If you do see some mould this is usually superficial and should not affect the future of your plant.

25/m2

Lily Of The Valley

Plant rhizomes horizontally 1″ below soil surface

15/m2

Wood Anemone

Plant rhizomes horizontally 1″ below soil surface

15/m2

Wild Garlic

2 inches

15/m2

Lesser Celandine

1″ below soil surface

25/m2

Wild Cyclamen Plant tubers 1” below soil  surface with flatter part uppermost and rounded part to the bottom

15/m2

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

* The planting density shown is only to be used as a rough guide, as everyone has there own preference for clumps or looser planting patterns. Bulbs will also spread to fill in gaps over a few years.

 

Colin Reader

www.wildflowerlawnsandmeadows.com

Here I will insert my instruction sheet which I send out with my special ‘low flowering, wild flower lawn seed mix’. If you wish for a low tidy lawn which you can mow regularly yet still enjoy wild flowers blooming all summer, then make sure you use my special wild flower lawn seed mix which you can view by clicking here.

Instructions for creating your ‘low flowering wild flower lawn’

Ideally choose a site that receives a reasonable amount of sun. Although this lawn mix will tolerate a fair degree of shade it will flower much better where it receives more sun.

Within the area to be seeded kill off any existing vegetation. You can achieve this by placing a piece of old carpet or black plastic etc on top of the area to stop light reaching the ground, after a few weeks the vegetation beneath should have died away leaving bare soil. Alternatively spray off existing grass or weeds with Glyphosate (Roundup) weed-killer. Two weeks after spraying, cut the dying vegetation as tight to the ground as possible and remove the cuttings. I only advise the use of Glyphosate as some other weed-killers do not break down on contact with the soil and so remain active to kill or weaken the future germinating seedlings. It is also the least harmful chemical weed-killer to use from a wildlife perspective. For weedy long grass lawn areas, or where a lot of weed seeds have been allowed to build up in the soil’s seed-bank over the past, it is best to spray the area off twice. Carry out the second spray when the area has greened up again, which can be several weeks later. Then undertake the seeding. This will reduce the amount of weed seeds that will germinate from your soil along with your sown wild flower seeds.

You can simply sow your seeds on the surface of the soil which has been revealed by the weed killing process described above. You can cultivate the ground but you do not have to; if you do you may expose many more weed seeds dormant in the soil’s seed-bank, which will germinate along with your sown seedsIf you need to cultivate the ground because it is rather compacted or you need to bring in soil, do this early to allow the weed seeds within the soil to germinate and then carry out the weed-killing procedure outlined above, then seed it.

You can sow your seeds anytime of the year but the rate of germination will depend on the level of moisture and warmth in the soil. If the weather is dry following seeding water the area regularly to speed up germination and establishment. Not all the wild flower species germinate at the same time, some are months behind others so there is always new things to spot when you inspect your wild flower lawn. If for any reason you find that you are not able to sow your seeds as quickly as you had hoped, do not panic, as long as you ensure the seed is kept in the bag and stored in a cool, dark, dry place it will be viable for 12 months or more.

Seeding. If seeding by hand, divide up the seed packet and your plot into quarters and this way you will get early warning if you are sowing too thickly and are likely to run out of seed before you reach the end of your plot! If you have scales to measure 3 grams accurately, do this and then between your fingers carefully scatter that quantity of seed over a marked 1 metre x 1 metre square of flat material such as a cardboard or plastic sheet etc. By doing this you will get to see the seed pattern/quantity that you should be using when sowing at 3 grams per square metre. You will also get an opportunity to see the array of different seed shapes and sizes as many are very tiny and hardly noticeable from looking at the packet. Save the seed from this exercise to sow with the others. If you are using a mechanical spreader, calibrate it to output at 3 grams per square metre.

I would encourage you to take the time to put some seed on a piece of plain white paper and use a magnifying glass to see their wonderful variety of shape and size. Even more amazing is looking at them under a microscope at x20 magnification – this is how I check and identify seeds – tiny round seeds that look the same to the naked eye can be from several different species and will have a very different appearance when magnified x20. At this magnification they can be seen for what they are, some of Mother Nature’s incredibly beautiful designs!

Do not cover with soil. Don’t worry about birds eating your wild flower seeds, I have never found them to be a problem as the seeds are too small, some grass seeds may be taken but this will not affect the final appearance. However if you have wild rabbits then do protect the area from the rabbits as they love young seedlings and will eat them before you even notice your seeds have germinated resulting in big bare patches.

Once the seeds have germinated and you see vegetation growing start mowing it when it reaches about 3 inches high, with your mower cut height set to about 2 inches (it is preferable to remove the cuttings). It will begin by looking very gappy with bare ground but will fill in as the plants germinate and spread to create your wild flower lawn.

Mowing. The species in this mixture will tolerate close mowing to a height of about 2 inches (5cm). To receive good flowering all season maintain a mowing frequency of about one cut every 3 weeks for the majority of the summer – this is approximate and you can certainly extend this mowing interval. However, if you mow too regularly i.e. every week, then many of the flowers will not get a chance to bloom, although you will not kill the plants you will not have much flowering. The final cut of the year should be done shorter than 2 inches to leave the lawn quite tight and ideally remove the cuttings to ensure good flowering resumes in the spring. When the wild orchids start flowering (this will not be until 3 to 4 years after sowing) you might want to mow round their lovely flowering spikes as they will only flower once each summer unlike the other species which will put up more flowers following mowing. Please note that the wild flowers in your lawn seed mix are perennial and come up year after year but only a few will flower during the initial year of seeding as they usually like a year of growth before flowering.

If you wish to maximise the flowering and wildlife benefits of your wild flower lawn once it is established (which would normally be from the second year), instead of mowing the whole lawn in one go, you can mow alternate halves every 10 days or more i.e. alternating which half of the lawn you cut each time, this will ensure that there are always flowers to view and for bees and butterflies to enjoy throughout the summer, as it can take a week to ten days for flowering to resume following each mowing.

When will the wild flowers appear? Being perennial wild flowers they take longer to germinate than annuals and depending upon the levels of warmth and moisture in the soil the majority will not germinate until late June or early July from a spring sowing (so be patient and don’t panic!). There will then be a succession of different species germinating throughout the following weeks and months. Many of the perennial wild flowers spend their first year bulking up their leaf growth and root structure instead of flowering so do not expect to see very much flowering in this first year. It is from the second year when your wild flower lawn will mature, with different species flowering en masse throughout the spring and summer. During the first year it is quite normal for it to look patchy with only a little colour but this changes during the second year. Your low flowering lawn wild flowers are all perennial which means they will survive year after year without the need for re-seeding. They are fully hardy to survive the winter.

If you follow these simple instructions your wild flower lawn should survive indefinitely and bring you much pleasure and fascination year after year. No two years will be the same as different species will bloom at differing levels of abundance, producing an ever changing feast of colour and form for your enjoyment and the bees and butterflies too.

Colin Reader

www.wildflowerlawnsandmeadows.com

 

 

Here I will post a copy of my wild flower seeding instructions for my pernnial wild flower seed mix. I will present it just as it appears in each packet of seeds that you might order from me.

Instructions for creating your wild flower area

For using my clay, loam and sandy soils mix’, my ‘chalk and limestone soils mix’ or my

 ‘general purpose mix’.

Choose a site that receives quite a lot of sun. For shaded areas use my ‘woodland and shade mix’.

Within the area to be seeded kill off any existing vegetation. You can achieve this by placing a piece of old carpet or black plastic etc on top of the area to stop light reaching the ground, after a few weeks the vegetation beneath should have died away leaving bare soil. Alternatively for larger areas spray off existing grass or weeds with Glyphosate (Roundup) weed-killer. Two weeks after spraying, cut the weeds as tight to the ground as possible and remove the cuttings. I only advise the use of Glyphosate as some other weed-killers do not break down on contact with the soil and so remain active to kill or weaken the future germinating seedlings. It is also the least harmful chemical weed-killer to use from a wildlife perspective.

For field areas or weedy long grass lawn areas, where a lot of weed seeds have been allowed to drop and build up in the soil’s seed-bank, it is best to spray the area off twice. Carry out the second spray when the area has greened up again, which can be several weeks later. Then undertake the seeding. This will reduce the amount of weed seeds that will germinate from your soil along with your sown wild flower seeds. This double weed-killing is not usually necessary when converting a previously well cared for, mown lawn area.

You can sow your seeds anytime of the year but the rate of germination will depend on the level of moisture and warmth in the soil. Native wild flowers are hardy and winter sowing is fine but don’t expect to see germination until the ground warms up in the spring. Not all the species germinate at the same time, some are months behind others so there is always new things to spot when you inspect your wild flower area. If for any reason you find that you are not able to sow your seeds as quickly as you had hoped, or have seed left over that cannot be used straight away, do not panic. As long as you ensure the seed is kept in the bag and stored in a cool, dark, dry place it will be viable for 12 months or more.

It is preferable not to cultivate the ground or you will expose many more weed seeds dormant in the soil’s seed-bank, which will germinate along with your sown seeds. Sow your seeds on the surface of the soil which has been revealed by the weed killing process described above. If you need to cultivate the ground because it is rather compacted, or you need to bring in soil, do this early to allow the weed seeds to germinate and then carry out the weed-killing procedure outlined above before seeding it.

Seeding. If seeding by hand, divide up the seed packet and your plot into quarters and this way you will get early warning if you are sowing too thickly and are likely to run out of seed before you reach the end of your plot! If you have scales to measure 3 grams accurately, do this and then between your fingers carefully scatter that quantity of seed over a marked 1 metre x 1 metre square of flat material such as a cardboard or plastic sheet etc. By doing this you will get to see the seed pattern/quantity that you should be using when sowing at 3 grams per square metre. You will also get an opportunity to see the array of different seed shapes and sizes as many are very tiny and hardly noticeable from looking at the packet. Save the seed from this exercise to sow with the others. If you are using a mechanical spreader, calibrate it to output at 3 grams per square metre.

I would encourage you to take the time to put some seed on a piece of plain white paper and use a magnifying glass to see their wonderful variety of shape and size. Even more amazing is looking at them under a microscope at x20 magnification – this is how I check and identify seeds – tiny round seeds that look the same to the naked eye can be from several different species and will have a very different appearance when magnified x20. At this magnification they can be seen for what they are, some of Mother Nature’s incredibly beautiful designs!

Do not cover with soil. Don’t worry about birds eating your wild flower seeds, I have never found them to be a problem as the seeds are too small, some grass seeds may be taken but this will not affect your final wild flower lawn or meadow appearance. However if you will have wild rabbits entering the seeded area then do protect it from them i.e. fence them out using rabbit netting, as they love young seedlings and will eat them before you even notice your seeds have germinated and you will end up with very few wild flower species or large bare areas.

When will the wild flowers appear? If you sow in the spring you should see germination within a few weeks depending upon the levels of warmth and moisture in the soil. There will then be a succession of different species germinating throughout the following weeks and months. If you sow between September-February most of the annuals will germinate from April (although Corncockle can germinate soon after sowing if the weather is not too cold and will happily survive the winter). The large assortment of perennial wild flower species in my mixtures will germinate a month or two later than the annuals with germination continuing throughout the year. Although the annuals will flower fully in the first year (from May onwards) and some of the perennials too (from late June onwards), many of the perennials spend their first year bulking up their leaf growth and root structure and so the colourful display you will see throughout the first year will be mostly coming from the annual wild flowers. It is from April of the second year when your wild flower area will burst into perennial bloom, with different species flowering en masse from early April right through until October and even November.

Future management to keep your wild flower area healthy. Treat your wild flower area like a hay meadow – cut it once towards the end of every year and remove the cuttings. If you don’t remove the cuttings they will act as a mulch and snuff out many of the more delicate wild flower species thus reducing the diversity in your lawn or meadow. For a small area that you can cut by hand with a strimmer or mower you can leave the cutting until October (or whenever it’s looking sad and untidy). Meadows will usually need to be cut earlier for practical reasons of getting machinery on the land before it gets too wet or before the rains flatten the grass making it hard to pick up (you don’t have this problem with smaller areas when using a strimmer and rake!). Try to leave your meadow cutting until at least mid August or you will be missing out on a lot of the flowering. Remember it is only the annual species which need to drop their seed to survive (and most will have done this by mid August), the majority of species in these mixes are perennials which do not rely on their seeds to survive, but continue year after year from their vegetative growth and so cutting any of these plants when still in flower will not damage the plant or the future of your wild flower area. Consequently cutting paths through your wild flower lawn or meadow is fine, indeed I would encourage this but use a mower that lifts and removes the cuttings when you do it.

If you follow these simple management instructions your wild flower area should survive indefinitely and bring you much pleasure and fascination year after year. No two years will be the same as different species will bloom at differing levels of abundance, producing an ever changing feast of colour and form for your enjoyment.

Colin Reader

www.wildflowerlawnsandmeadows.com

Here I will post a copy of my wild flower seeding instructions for my ‘woodland and shade wild flower seed mix’. I will present it just as it appears in each packet of seeds that you might order from me.

Instructions for creating your woodland & shadewild flower area

This mix is suitable for varying woodland and shade conditions.

Within the area to be seeded kill off any existing vegetation (this is not necessary if the vegetation is very sparse). You can achieve this by placing a piece of old carpet or black plastic etc on top of the area to stop light reaching the ground, after a few weeks the vegetation beneath should have died away leaving bare soil. Alternatively for larger areas spray off existing grass or weeds with Glyphosate (Roundup) weed-killer. Two weeks after spraying, cut the weeds as tight to the ground as possible and remove the cuttings. I only advise the use of Glyphosate as some other weed-killers do not break down on contact with the soil and so remain active to kill or weaken the future germinating seedlings. It is also the least harmful chemical weed-killer to use from a wildlife perspective.

Where a lot of weed seeds have been allowed to drop and build up in the soil’s seed-bank, it is best to spray the area off twice. Carry out the second spray when the area has greened up again, which can be several weeks later. Then undertake the seeding. This will reduce the amount of weed seeds that will germinate from your soil along with your sown wild flower seeds. This double weed-killing is not usually necessary when converting a previously well cared for mown lawn area.

You can sow your seeds anytime of the year but the rate of germination will depend on the level of moisture and warmth in the soil. Native wild flowers are hardy and winter sowing is fine but don’t expect to see germination until the ground warms up in the spring. Not all the species germinate at the same time, some are months behind others so there is always new things to spot when you inspect your wild flower area. I have found that woodland and shade areas are a bit slower to establish than open situations where there is more sunlight and the soil is warmer.

If you are not ready to sow your seeds yet don’t worry, as long as you ensure the seeds are kept in the bag and stored in a cool, dark, dry place they will be viable for 12 months or more.

It is preferable not to cultivate the ground or you will expose many more weed seeds dormant in the soil’s seed-bank, which will germinate along with your sown seeds. Sow your seeds on the surface of the soil which has been revealed by the weed killing process described above. If you need to cultivate the ground because it is rather compacted, or you need to bring in soil, do this early to allow the weed seeds to germinate and then carry out the weed-killing procedure outlined above before seeding it.

Please note: if you suddenly allow a lot more light into a woodland by coppicing or creating a ride you will trigger the germination of many seeds already present but previously dormant within your soil’s seed bank and these can germinate along with your sown seeds. This may not be a problem but be aware of bramble which can colonise and spread in these situations.

Seeding. If seeding by hand, divide up the seed packet and your plot into quarters and this way you will get early warning if you are sowing too thickly and are likely to run out of seed before you reach the end of your plot! If you have scales to measure 3 grams accurately, do this and then between your fingers carefully scatter that quantity of seed over a marked 1 metre x 1 metre square of flat material such as a cardboard or plastic sheet etc. By doing this you will get to see the seed pattern/quantity that you should be using when sowing at 3 grams per square metre. You will also get an opportunity to see the array of different seed shapes and sizes as many are very tiny and hardly noticeable from looking at the packet. Save the seed from this exercise to sow with the others. If you are using a mechanical spreader, calibrate it to output at 3 grams per square metre.

I would encourage you to take the time to put some seed on a piece of plain white paper and use a magnifying glass to see their wonderful variety of shape and size. Even more amazing is looking at them under a microscope at x20 magnification – this is how I check and identify seeds – tiny round seeds that look the same to the naked eye can be from several different species and will have a very different appearance when magnified x20. At this magnification they can be seen for what they are, some of Mother Nature’s incredibly beautiful designs!

Do not cover with soil. Don’t worry about birds eating your wild flower seeds, I have never found them to be a problem as the seeds are too small, some grass seeds may be taken but this will not affect the final appearance of your wild flower area. However if you will have wild rabbits entering the seeded area then do protect it from them i.e. fence them out using rabbit netting, as they love young seedlings and will eat them before you even notice your seeds have germinated and you will end up with very few wild flower species or large bare areas.

When will the wild flowers appear? In shaded areas germination is more spasmodic than in open situations, but generally speaking once spring arrives you should see germination of some species within a couple of months of seeding (later than many people realise…so don’t panic if nothing appears to be happening for a while). There will then be a succession of different species germinating throughout the following months and into the second year. Many of the perennials spend their first year bulking up their leaf growth and root structure and so flowering will be limited throughout the first year. It is from April of the second year that you should expect most flowering. Once established different species can flower in succession throughout the year till October or even November.

Future management to keep your wild flower area healthy. If you have created a wild flower area along a sunny woodland ride or glade and there is a good amount of grass present then treat your wild flower area like a hay meadow – cut it once a year and remove the cuttings. If you don’t remove the cuttings these can act as a mulch and snuff out some of the more delicate wild flowers thus reducing the variety of wild flower species able to survive. Do this cutting towards the end of every year. For a small area that you can cut by hand with a strimmer or mower you can leave the cutting until late October (or whenever it’s looking sad and untidy). Larger areas will usually need to be cut earlier for practical reasons of getting machinery onto the land before it gets too wet but try to leave it as late as possible or you will miss out on a lot of the flowering. In more shaded areas you may have not have enough bulk of vegetation to warrant cutting it every year, but try to ensure a mat of dead vegetation does not build up within a wild flower area over a few years. If it does you need to cut it lower and remove the cuttings.

Most of the wild flower species in this mix are perennial and do not rely on their seed to survive, but continue year after year from their vegetative growth and so cutting any of these when still in flower will not damage the plant or the future of your wild flower area. So cutting paths through them is fine.

If you follow these simple management instructions your wild flower area should survive indefinitely and bring you much pleasure and fascination year after year. No two years will be the same as different species will bloom at differing levels of abundance, producing an ever changing feast of colour and form for your enjoyment.

 Colin Reader

www.wildflowerlawnsandmeadows.com

How to create a wild flower area depends upon your site’s conditions and whether you wish for an annual or perennial wild flower area. So please refer to the “How to..” questions listed above which relates to your site or project.

Yes if you go to my ‘Yellow Rattle seed’ page by clicking here. If you think you have too much grass invading your wild flower area then add some Yellow Rattle seed by scattering it on the surface of the ground after cutting the existing grass short (ideally remove the grass cuttings before scattering the seed). In a meadow do this following a hay cut or tight grazing. The time to sow the seed for best results is between July and February. You will not see germination until March or April, when you will see their little serrated leaves appearing. If you want Yellow Rattle plug plants click here to view these.

A wild flower lawn is an area which is kept mown quite short on a regular basis and the wild flowers present are tolerant of the mowing regime and so tend to flower lower down on shorter stems and also tend to flower quite prolifically and resume flowering quite quickly following mowing. This requires a special wild flower seed mixture, to view my unique mix for this purpose click here. In contrast a wild flower meadow grows taller and should only be cut once a year at the end of the summer or early autumn as many of the species present would take a lot longer to return to flowering following a mowing compared to those included when creating a wild flower lawn. Click here to view my various wild flower meadow seed mixtures, all of which contain wild orchids (as does my wild flower lawn mix) click here.

You should sow an annual wild flower mixture anytime between September and the end of May to have a good long flowering season during the summer. If you particularly like Corn Marigold, which is included in my Annual wild flower mix  then sow the annual seeds from late February onwards as Corn Marigold does not cope so well with the months of cold winter weather as does the other species. The later you sow annual wild flowers after the end of May, the later in the summer they will begin flowering and if we have a long dry summer you risk getting poor weedy looking plants as a result.

You can sow all my other wild flower mixtures (which are perennial ones) anytime.  The grasses I choose to include in my perennial mixtures are less competitive and at a lower than average ratio to the wild flowers to create a graceful appearance and reduce the competition for the wild flowers helping them to flourish. Take a look at my other FAQ’s to guide you more.

 
 

Yes, they are ideal as my seed mixtures are all of native origin and are the most species rich mixtures available, which creates a very long flowering season which is necessary for on going nectar provision for bees and butterflies. My seed mixtures also contain extra special flowers such as native orchid. You can view all the details from the ‘seed mixes’ page of this website.

Don’t worry about birds eating your wild flower seeds, I have never found them to be a problem as the seeds are too small and they get lost amongst the soil, some grass seeds may be taken but this will not affect your final wild flower lawn or meadow appearance. However if you will have wild rabbits entering the seeded area then do protect it from them i.e. fence them out using rabbit netting, as they love young seedlings and will eat them before you even notice your seeds have germinated and you will end up with very few wild flower species or large bare areas. You can see their effects in the photograph below, they eat the young succulent seedlings just after they have germinated so you end up with big areas of nothing. Once the wild flower area is established you can remove the rabbit fence if you wish as they will not kill the fully grown plants, they will just keep some areas grazed short and reduce the amount of flowering you see.

Tell-tale signs of rabbits badly effecting the establishment of a newly created wild flower site

I found the following company’s unique plant pest deterrent products of particular interest due to their safe ingredients, beneficial side-effects on the plants and non-harmful effects on the target pest. The products are plant protectors and not pesticides. I have used their G2 formula on my plant plugs and mature plants and found them effective against slugs and snails; repeat treatment I found beneficial as the plant grows and produces new leaves and also after periods of rain.

They also do a G1 formula to protect plants against rabbits which has been used in agricultural situations as well as gardens, I am yet to try this one as I prefer to use rabbit netting to fence out my wild flower areas if rabbits are present, but I would be interested to hear from customers who have used their G1 product.
Click here to visit their website.

Wild flower plant plugs are little plants ready for you to plant out in the ground. They are a great alternative to using wild flower seeds if you wish for quick results. The advantage of plant plugs is that they can be planted straight into an area of short mown grass, so are good for introducing wild flowers into lawns, unlike wild flower seeds which require bare ground. Being hardy you can plant them out at any time of year: spring, summer, autumn or winter. However refrain from planting if the ground is frozen or during a drought!

I have created my own unique collections of wild flower plant plugs to suit your planting requirements. Just like my seed mixtures my plug collections are very rich in wild flower species. Each collection contains plants of 15 different wild flower species. I have selected the best and most attractive wild flowers for each situation to provide you with a very long season of flowering with beautiful variations in colour and form.

Yes. You can purchase any of my special grass seed mixtures by themselves. Bags for seeding areas up to 250m2 (of 1kg in weight) cost £25-00. Please contact me to place an order.

Yes it is very easy to create. It is simpler than a meadow because it has usually been kept mown short and so there are very few weed issues. Its creation and management can be carried out without the need for any machinery larger than a mower, or strimmer and rake.

Yes, with every seed order I always enclose my simple step by step guide on how to successfully create your wild flower area.

Always choose the sunniest site that you can. If you have shaded areas, then consider using my woodland & shade wild flower mix for these places.

No, this is something of a misconception. Wild flowers will grow well on fertile soils. However it is the rapid growth response of other competitive species, particularly grasses that can cause problems on very fertile sites. If you prepare the site adequately before seeding you should have little problem. It is usually agricultural land which has had a lot of manure or fertilisers applied in the past that can be a challenge. It is the Phosphorus level within the soil which is the main element I test for as an indication of fertility. Generally speaking I would not attempt to convert an area with a Phosphorus Index of 3 or above (26-45 ppm in the soil), unless it was for an annual wild flower meadow (as my annual wild flower mix would do well in this situation). I have successfully created and managed excellent perennial wild flower meadows with Phosphorus levels of 2.7 and below. Other elements must also be taken into consideration in addition to the fertility of a site, such as the amount of direct sunlight it receives, how well draining the soil is etc. These all come into play as factors either favouring the wild flowers or their competition.

No. It would only be in the most extreme cases when this would be necessary (please see answer to question above).

Not without a little preparation. Weeds will tend to take over, such as Nettle, Ragwort etc. Clear the ash and the section of top-soil into which the very high nutrient levels will have leached and back-fill with new soil before seeding.

An annual wild flower area will fully mature in its first year. A perennial wild flower area will fully mature in its second year. To overcome this I include various annual wild flower species in my luxury perennial mixtures to ensure colour and interest during the first year.

Yes. I include wild Orchid seed as standard within all my perennial wild flower seed mixtures and you can buy additions to any mix by going to the ‘Rarities‘ page  of this website. I have seed from a variety of other native Orchid and Helleborine species for sale, all of British origin as specified.

Yes. I have created a unique range of native origin, British wild flower seed mixtures for these situations. They are all very rich and diverse in species. Please refer to the ‘Home’ page of this website for an overview and the ‘More details’ link for each mix, to learn all about their contents. Keep your eyes on my seed mixtures as I will vary their contents every so often to keep them fresh and exciting. They will include native species that you will be unlikely to find elsewhere within a wild flower seed mix.

When creating wild flower landscapes for clients I needed mixtures that were very rich in species to give non-stop flowering from spring through summer and well into the autumn. I found the standard wild flower seed mixtures available did not have a large enough range of species within them (and they were all so similar in content) and so I began designing and trialling my own. It is a decade since I first started designing seed mixtures for my own landscaping projects and following many requests to do so, I have now made these available for sale on this website.

Yes, I provide advice over the phone or on site. Please refer to the ‘Advice’ page of this website for details.

Yes, I was creating wild flower lawns and meadows for clients for 10 years before I set up this website and I continue to create them, I love doing them! This practical experience provided me with the necessary knowledge to design the seed mixtures that I now sell, to create wonderful landscapes, large and small.  Please refer to the ‘About’ page of this website for more about me and the geographical area within which I undertake wild flowering projects.

Be very cautious when considering using herbicides to control weeds in wild flower situations. If a herbicide product states that it will kill thistles, it will usually also kill other members of the thistle family, which you may be surprised to learn includes many of our wild flower species, such as Oxeye Daisy, Knapweed, Cornflower, Corn Marigold, Yarrow etc. I suggest that you seek advice before using any weed-killers within a wild flower situation. I provide advice on the management of weed issues, either over the phone or on site. Please refer to the ‘Advice‘ page of this website for details.

It depends upon how fertile your soil is and consequently how quickly your grasses grow back following the hay cut. Bear in mind that wild flower seeds require warmth and light to germinate. If the grass has grown back tall to shade them before they can germinate, little will happen. Most of our native perennial wild flowers do not germinate until late June, unlike our native annuals which germinate from April. I would advise that you add more Yellow Rattle seed to the wild flower seed mixture (available from my ‘Yellow Rattle seed’ page, to view this click here). This annual species is semi-parasitic on grass and will weaken its growth and open up the sward reducing the amount of grass present and consequently letting in more light during the summer to help other wild flower species to establish. You should carry out this seeding following the hay cut.

Yellow Rattle is an annual wild flower which can only continue within the sward by growing a new plant from its seed each spring. Therefore to get rid of it just mow it tight to the ground, several times during the spring and summer, to prevent it flowering and setting seed. Your other perennial wild flowers will not be killed as they grow back each year from their root system and parent plant.

Yes I can create designer mixtures for clients. E-mail me the details and if you know which species you require send a list of them to me together with the area you need to seed and I will supply you with a quote for the mixture. Please note that the cost of such a mix will be higher than using one of my standard mixtures, there is a minimum charge of £250 per order, so this is not so economic for very small areas.

Yes I assist with the creation and management of wild flower areas. Please refer to the ‘Advice‘ page of this website for details of how I can help.