Removing a wildflower meadow

detail regrowthWildflower meadows. Sometimes they just don’t work out. In bare soil you can get a great meadow sown from seed in the same year. Perennial meadows take a year longer. Every wildflower meadow will evolve over time.

And sometimes you are so invaded by the usual – annual grasses, nettles, brambles, that you have to start again. Or just cut it all back, chuck mulch over it and hope it goes away. It’s called evolution, but it doesn’t half ruin your garden design.

Ah mulch. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out.

But wait; weren’t you extolling the virtues of it just a few days ago? Indeed. And it is ace at smothering annual weeds.  But the mulch in question today is at the edge of the pool bank.

And despite putting the stuff almost a foot thick this summer it hasn’t slowed down the beasts: achillea, coreopsis, vile mint, nettles and one salvia.

I’m happy about the salvia. It is even flowering again after the drought. And that’s something my other salvias have failed to do. So I will be trying to save that.

But after a few good inches of rain in the past month, the plants have just burst through the mulch and are looking very pleased with themselves indeed.

So where are we? We are on the steep pool bank where all the eragrostis grasses grow. I am aiming to have a cascade of the grasses right down to the beautiful granite wall by the pool. regrowth

In the beginning I planted a wildflower meadow here.  And one thing you learn about gardening on steep slopes is the good stuff all falls to the bottom. The good soil, the seeds, and eventually the plants.

There is better moisture at the base of this bank than the parched steep slope. So instead of drifts of achillea, verbena bonariensis, salvias and coreposis, I have a ridiculous band of growth right at the front. A tonsure if you will.

I have the new eragrostis grasses planted in among these beasts. They have all taken well, and I will lift the spares growing in the path above for a spring planting to complete the grass bank picture. And plant out the ones I grew from seed last month which are doing very well in the potting shed.  (If Artur can be persuaded not to snooze on them.)

So I have the autumn and winter to get the whole front of the bank cleared.

Have you ever tried to move achillea plants? They are very tricky customers. Deep tap roots, and those roots often get right down near the stone wall. So it is going to take a bit of muscle to lever them out.  And not pull out the eragrostis at the same time.

I already uprooted one accidentally when I was chasing a nettle root.

You know that great feeling when you lift a large clump of nettle and a huge network of snaking white root starts to dislodge just under the soil? It’s marvellous fun (if you don’t have a gap between your work shirt and the top of the glove and get stung).  And the mulch over the top this summer did mean that these sort of weeds are easier to dislodge because they didn’t root very deeply.

But I think it’s going to be a matter of getting out a tarp. Putting all the good mulch safely out of the way, climbing onto the bank and using the big fork to try and shift all the unwanted leftovers of the meadow.

I can sort and decide what to keep after they are out. And I haven’t pitched head first into the pool yanking on a recalcitrant plant.  I will NOT be keeping the vile mint.

And here is the result of the chipping work I have done non stop in the past few days.  Alice’s path is now covered with a chestnut, mulberry, oak and plum sucker mix.  Artur thinks it is the perfect spot for resting after the hard session of resting in the potting shed all morning.  The green gauge plums throw a perfect dappled shade. artur and mulch