Garden Advice: Wildflower meadow in Norfolk
Mr LH. (January 2008)
I live in Norfolk and I have an area of approx. 100ft by 85ft which was until 6 years ago grazed by my goats. Since they have all passed away the land has been left and produces some very large nettles, thistles, hogweed, teasels and various other large plants. I would like to turn it into a wildflower meadow. I have recently had a sewage treatment plant installed and the subsoil has been spread over the land.
Can you advise me the best way to create this bearing in mind I'm 62 years old and live by myself so would need to hire some help.
Bide-A-Wee response (by Mark Robson)
The area sounds to have been well fertilised by the goats, with such robust plants as nettles and thistles, but you are right to cover the existing topsoil with low fertility subsoil.
The subsoil will need to be at least 250mm deep, however you may still need to control the nettles, (that will push their way through the subsoil, by either covering the regrowth with a plastic membrane or spraying with Glyphosate, until they have died. Control of these invasive species is paramount prior to the much more interesting planting works.
To create the actual meadow I would suggest cultivating the subsoil to provide a tilth suitable to sow a wildflower seed mix, this is where you may need help.
Select a mix suitable for your soil type and moisture level, There are many seed companies that offer Wildflower mixes, your local agricultural seed merchant will advise, however Emorsgate Seeds is a reputable company is local to you, in Norfolk.
The seed will need to be broadcast and raked in. If your impatient, you may wish to augment your seeding with wild flower plugs. planting groups of plants such as cowslip and primroses. which helps you get the meadow established quickly.
Finally you may also wish to consider planting bulbs such as Snowdrops and fritillary, or those bulbs suited to your soil.
Good luck with your project.