This spring's big garden project, now that the barn is done, is the sowing of annual wildflowers in the area by the compost heaps and the fire site. That makes it sound very utilitarian! I hope the end result won't be. I have tried to establish perennial wildflowers in the new orchard higher up the field. A perennial meadow is a much harder task than I had understood when I started out. The native daffodils are doing well and some of the spring flowers are fine, with primroses and cowslips establishing and a surprising burst of sweet rocket sitting at the edge of the skirts of the apple tree. Last year we had ox eye daisies, yarrow, fox and cubs as well as meadow buttercup, plantain and some of the lovelier, finer grasses. But the knapweed and the field scabious were single, solitary presences and there is clearly far too much of the lush, tough grasses like Yorkshire fog. I have tried to sow yellow rattle to weaken the grass but my two seed trays full of the stuff have produced only one plant. The orchard is still beautiful and I persevere.
The new project is a different form of wildflower gardening all together. This, I hope, will be a large area of annual wildflowers which will shimmer and dance with colour. At the moment it is not:
The contractors who built the barn had to remove quite a bit of topsoil to create the hard standing in front of the building. They spread it for me between the new hedge, just out of view to the left of the picture, and the native tree walk, looking like nothing much to the right. David who works in the garden a day a week (and without whom the whole enterprise would turn to dust) raked it and today I spent three hours digging out the perennial weeds which had appeared since its raking.
It is both a mindnumbing and an oddly satisfying task: two barrowloads of dandelions and docks, now all piled up on a pallet in order to dry out sufficiently to be burnt.
Doesn't look much different for it!
I am sowing a mixture from pictorial meadows The mixtures need a richer soil than the perennial meadow which might be a problem here where our soil is fertile enough but stony and in need of supplementing with compost and manure. You might have seen the pictorial meadow mixes in use in the programmes by Sarah Raven on sowing wildflowers to encourage pollinating insects. These have been running on the BBC earlier this spring. If you are at all interested and didn't see the programmes they are worth watching if you can find them. I am adding some of my own seed to the mix, using plants which have been growing successfully up here, principally a red papaver somniferum, some double purples and calendula.
In an ideal world, come the summer, it might look like this:
I wonder if it will?