Native wildflowers are not like their fancy bedding-plant descendants. Many need a winter to germinate, and they all grow very slowly. Once a good size however, they are tougher than anything you'll buy at a supermarket or nursery. They evolved here, remember, long before we did - 'we' just keep destroying their habitat.
An Oxe-eye Daisy plant can be ready for you in 3 months; Field Scabious takes almost a year to be the size we sell.
We transplant seedlings straight into 14cm long root-trainers, so that their roots are not disturbed again until they meet you, by the usual rounds of 'potting-on', and can support excellent top-growth. They are given time and care to grow, most species over 6 months or more.
Our nursery, on the banks of the River Trent near Sherwood Forest, gives the ideal climate for strong outdoor growth. We don't use greenhouses.
We take this time to bring you wildflower plants that can root and compete for space, water, nutrients and light, amongst grasses or any future weeds on bare plots. We save completely on plastics by providing bare-root plants.
DELIVERY AND PLANTING
The best time to plant wildflowers is mid-March until late June, then late-August to mid-November. However, mid-summer planting IS possible, as long as you are particularly attentive to watering.
We plant all of our products in line with the natural cycle, as this is best for establishment. This is why our product range varies so much in terms of when it is available. Ponds can be installed pretty much year-round, for example, but native trees must be planted in winter dormancy, as must bulbs.
You MUST plant bare-rooted wildflowers within 48 hours of receipt.
Their roots must always be kept moist after planting. They remain vulnerable (like any plant) to drying out for 4 weeks after planting, because they haven't rooted into YOUR soil. After this time, in larger meadows you have to let nature take it's course, or you can water in dry weather. Your wildflowers can survive any future drought by dying back, and coming back to life when it finally rains. But they can only do this, once established (year 2).
In this first 4 weeks though, you MUST water your plants at least every other day. For the full four weeks. If you don't, many will die, and to be helpfully blunt, this will be your fault.
The only exception is after heavy rain. If you 'wing-it' and under-water, the damage will often be done BEFORE you see your plants wilt, so don't rely on visual inspection.
Don't fall into the trap of thinking that because it's cool and overcast, and it rained a few days ago, that "they'll be OK". Particularly in grassland and around trees and shrubs, competition for water is fierce. Just under the surface it can be bone dry.
Check your soil by digging a finger in. If it is damp/wet to your finger tip, it's OK for today. If you can't decide how damp your finger ACTUALLY is, then WATER!!
I think we've made our point.
Your perennial wildflower meadow/bed will need an annual cut, to stop rotting vegetation and vigorous grasses reducing diversity, and to let in air and light.
This also helps your existing wildflowers to self-seed, or to spread. And it keeps it tidy for the winter, almost like a rough lawn which magically awakens in Spring!
Sadly, it is part of the natural cycle that from as early as July, bad weather can cause a meadow to start to 'topple', flatten and start turning yellow.
Many customers feel overwhelmed by this in their first year of meadow-making. However, the first few times this happens the grass and flowers will usually 'recover and stand up straight' without intervention.
The wildflowers will poke through again.
Some soil conditions and existing grass mixes, may encourage very vigorous growth. If you have this kind of 'lush meadow', you'll need to consider cutting as early as late July in year 1 (this can get progressively later each year), and you also need to consider a Spring cut. These are the most challenging conditions for establishing a wildflower-meadow - harder than wet or shady plots. We will advise you on techniques to control your grasses to give the flowers a chance. The most lush meadows may need a cut in July or August, followed by raking or harrowing and sowing of Yellow Rattle. This parasitic flower feeds from grasses and reduces their vigour markedly. You may need to cut again in early November, then once in March and once in April!
It is true that this reduces the flowering period of some of your wildflowers, but it's an investment in their future. They need help to compete.
Thankfully, most types of meadow just need a single Autumn cut. If your site was formerly used by animals (be it chickens, or horses), or was regularly fertilised for some other reason, you may have to use this more intensive programme for the first few years, until the fertility is reduced back to its original state.
One of the paradoxes of meadow creation is that for almost all types of gardening you want to ADD fertility. For meadows though, the opposite is true. Fertile soil generally favours the grasses and weeds. It's not that your wildflowers don't like the nutrients, they just get out-competed. So, in a low nutrient soil, they find it easier to hold their own. And whilst it is true that if you put an Ox-eye Daisy in a container and feed it Gro-more all year, it will become a monster. But in our opinion, not as beautiful as the smaller, more wiry and wild flower you'll get, if you plant it in a meadow. They look better as nature intended.
If you order our service, we cut the top growth down to 7cm / 2.5 inches, but leave it uncollected for an hour or two (to let living things head to ground level and help self-seeding). It is then gathered, and we rake or harrow. Then we cut again, to 6cm / 2 inches, collecting all cuttings.
This cutting-length is MORE than long enough to protect your wildflowers, mini-beasts, and small mammals.