W IL D FLO WER MEADOWS: Appearances can be deceptive 8 iv) Wild Flower S eed s • N on na ti v e mixes? With the traditional English Hay Meadow ‘going over’ by, say, mid-July, if this is cut back, the resulting parched sward can look unappetising in a garden setting, just when, in the height of summer, you may well want to be enjoying the garden. To stretch and increase the aesthetic interest of the meadow, mixes are available that contain non-native species. The flowering power that these mixtures produce is often amazing but care should be given to ensure that such mixtures are not necessarily sown where you want to preserve and indeed compliment the local native palette of wild flowers. • N ati v e species? So, if mixtures with non-natives are to be avoided, consider adjusting the mixture to add wild flowers that will really stretch the season into September, or even later. True, the quality of the hay by then will be much reduced, but we are not usually interested in this, in so far as we are gardeners, not farmers. Thus, Devils Bit Scabious and Fleabane will flower their socks off into September on wet sites, whilst Wild Carrot, Yarrow and Chicory will perform over a similar period in the driest of sites. And of course do you choose a grass and wild flower mix or just pure wild flowers? If establishing from scratch, a mix of 80% grass : 20% wild flowers would usually be the starting point. If adding to existing poor grassland or an existing meadow, then consider leaving out the grass. A non-native meadow mix Valeriana officinalis: a native wildflower perennial Fleabane and Devil’s-bit scabious