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 e3 ) G R O U N D P R E P A R A T I O NAs with decorating, good preparation is essential. Theres no point in painting a wall where the plaster is not sound or where cracks remain unfilled.The aim must be to create a soil with a fine tilth and low nutrient levels that you can sow into and maximise the chances of successful germination.i ) S o d o y o u j u s t r o t o v a t e & r a k e t o a f i n e t i l t h ?Not necessarily, for in the soil there may well be a seed bank of dormant weed seeds, which can include nasty weed seeds such as docks, nettles and thistles. For the most part these are thugs and will overwhelm the wild flowers that we want to encourage. True, nettles encourage many types of butterflies, but we only want them in modest amounts. And each dock plant can produce 70,000 weed seeds a year and these are viable for 70 years. Turning the soil and exposing them to UV light for 1/5th of a second stimulates their germination and a whole new generation of docks appear, swamping any wild flowers that may be trying to germinate. With their thick leaves and long tap roots, the docks will win.i i ) S o w h a t d o y o u d o ?Yellow Rattle parasitises and weakensIf the existing sward of grass is poor and thin and not too tussocky you could cut this low and then open up the sward mechanically, say, by scarifying. The aim will be to reveal 50% of the area as open soil, such that then seed can be sown. grasses, therby increasing the success ofThe sitethe meadow Of course this will not address any underlying issues of high nutrient levels. Traditionally the answer would have been to strip off the top soil or even deep plough the top soil, but this is hardly sustainable. Instead Yellow Rattle is today the The siteRotovate After3'