Prepare for a few exclamation marks – I try to rein them in but I do get so excited these days about all things green as you know. These images are from the pages of the New Wild Garden by Ian Hodgson, a new book about natural style planting (my fave) and all the practical info to help you achieve the not quite looked after look. I think our neighbours may think we already have that mastered this, but in the wrong kind of way! So if you are loving all my plant obsessed posts and want to see more – come on! I fell in love with one of the projects so much (above), that I had to ask the lovely folk over at Frances Lincoln if I could have the ‘how-to’ to share with you here. I cannot wait to make one of these for our garden – a bucket full of wild meadow magic – what do you think? If you get as excited as me about these things lets get started!
MAKE A POTTED MICRO MEADOW – New Wild Garden – extract p130-1
Bring a small slice of yesteryear into the garden with an old-fashioned corn meadow in a container.
SITE: Full sun SOIL: Seed or cutting compost MAINTENANCE NEEDED: Medium
YOU WILL NEED
- Large pot or half-barrel
- Seed or cutting compost
- Corn plants (if not home-grown)
- Packets of meadow style annuals
- Twiggy stakes, if required
- Watering equipment
• Agrostemma githago ‘Ocean Pearl’ (corncockle) • Ammi majus ‘Graceland’ (laceflower) • Centaurea cyanus (cornflower) • Didiscus caerulea (blue lace flower)
• Hordeum jubatum (squirrel grass) • Lamarckia aurea (golden shower grass) • Papaver rhoeas (field poppies) • Triticum durum (corn plants)
- Attracts pollinating insects, particularly hoverflies, bees and butterflies
- Seeds provide food for birds and other wildlife in the autumn
- Keep seedlings moist after germination and until established
- Keep pot watered in dry and windy periods
- Support any sagging plants at the edges of the display with twiggy sticks
1) CREATE THE CORNFIELD
Fill a 60cm (2ft) tub or barrel with compost (you can first add a layer of polystyrene chips or bricks if you want to save on compost). Grow corn from seed in advance or obtain 4–6 young plants from a farmer. Plant them in the pot.
2) FILL IN THE GAPS
Leave gaps between the corn plants for other ornamental meadow plants, placing them close together to create a good display, with shorter plants around the edge. Add twiggy sticks between plants for support, if necessary.
3) GROWING ON
When all plants are in position, water in and keep compost moist until plants are growing well. Do not use fertiliser, as this inhibits flowering. Reduce watering after flowering when plants are going to seed.
DIRECT SOWING METHOD
Sowing a wildflower seed mixture around young corn plants is an effective alternative to using plug plants. Mix the seed in a bowl of dry, silver sand to bulk it up. Then, using your fingers or a sieve, spread the mixture evenly around the potted corn meadow. Water in with a can fitted with a fine rose and keep the compost surface moist until seedlings establish.That was just one of many ideas and projects, but if you hope to cultivate a wild garden big or small or to learn all the names of the plants you see out and about peeping over people’s fences like me, or how to layer grasses and what likes to live where – this is a great book full of ideas and practical know-how.Project and images extracted from New Wild Garden: Natural-Style Planting and Practicalities by Ian Hodgson. Photo credit: Neil Hepworth. Published by Frances Lincoln (£25), out now!