b'W I L D F L O W E R M E A D O W S : A p p e a r a n c e s c a n b e d e c e p t i v e2 ) S I T E S E L E C T I O N A N D S O I L S Foxgloves love light dappled shadei ) S i t e S e l e c t i o nThe crucial principal of planting design is no less true for wildflower meadows: right plant, right place. If you are dealing with a dry, free draining site that bakes in the sun, theres little point in using a mix that includes, say,Meadowsweet, that thrives near the waters edge. The plant will fail and you have wasted valuable time, money and energy.So assess the soil, whether it is free draining, poorlydrained, thin, and the aspect, i.e. in shade or sun, or mixed.In addition, note what is already growing on the site; teasels and yarrow will suggest that the site is sunny and free draining. Marsh marigolds will conversely relish a damper situation. Work with these clues and then assess what should be retained, preserved and enhanced. For instance nettles will suggest that you have ahigh nutrient area and a challenge ahead. And indeed if the neighbour has nettles think ahead for the arrival of their seeds blown on the wind. A waterside plantingi i ) S o i l F e r t i l i t yGenerally wild flower meadows thrive best in low nutrient areas, for otherwise the grass out-competes the wild flowers. Annual wild flowers are the exception, but by their nature annualsare just that, they will only flower once and cannotbe relied upon to reseed and reflower in the following year. Annuals are often added to the mix in year one, almost as a nursery crop to give the meadow some impact initially but as the perennial plants increase they are likely to crowd out the annuals in later years. And many annuals such as poppies will not return unless the soil is disturbed, a process which can encourage unwanted material such as docks and thistles.2'