Monty Don explains how to encourage growth of wildflowers
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Monty Don explained it is essential gardeners make sure their grass is not “too dominant” and if it is fitted for wildflowers, he recommended treating it “like hay”.
Monty shared how he achieved this in his own garden: “This long grass in the cricket pitch, which we cut round about the end of July to the middle of August every year is actually geared to present as many wildflowers as we possibly can.
“But to get that display, it is dependent upon the grass, which is the matrix in which it grows in, not being too dominant.
“So treat it like hay.”
He continued: “But the crucial thing is not to cut it at all until all the seeds have set and the foliage has died down, which is somewhere between the middle of July and the middle of August.
“Then cut it and rake it up.
“Get every little scrap of grass off the ground so it can’t die back and then feed back into the soil.
“But it will make good compost, so we do recycle in another way.
“And then we keep it tightly mown for the rest of the summer and into autumn so we go into winter with very short grass, which means that we can see the first crocuses they’re not competing with grass at all.”
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If gardeners follow these steps, they will get a cycle of “dramatic and splendid display of wildflowers in spring,” Monty said.
What’s the best grass to grow wildflowers?
Normally wildflowers must have poor soil to thrive, but it depends on the type of flower.
The Royal Horticultural Society explained perennial meadows, like poppies or cornflowers, thrive best on poor soils because the grasses compete less with the wildflowers.
“If you have rich soil, it is worth removing the top layer and sowing directly into dug or rotovated sub-soil,” they recommended.
Annual meadows, like bishops weed or Californian poppy, need rich soils.
“These are a good choice where you are converting an existing border,” the RHS explained.
How can you grow your own wildflowers?
First, prepare for sowing by firming the soil, then rake over the area to a fine tilth before soaking with water.
Then, sow a mix of flowers suitable for your soil but “on large sites, stand on a board to avoid damaging the raked surface,” Monty advised.
Finally, gently rake the seed into the surface.
Monty recommended protecting it from grazing birds “by installing bright scarers or netting”.
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