We have tried something different in the garden this year. It has been really fun creating it and watching how things develop. We moved some fruit bushes freeing up a sunny plot of land about 10ft square. Rather than go for some of the obvious choices of perennial plants and shrubs or vegetables we thought we would try and be more original. I wanted planting that would look good from Spring to Autumn, not cost too much, and most of all, low maintenance was on the top of the wish list.
We had cleared the land in March. The openness of the land gave us the opportunity to plant a willow teepee for use as a den by my son, as well as providing a beautiful structure for all of us. The story of how this was planted can be found at Our Willow Wigwam. We had all visited the Olympic Park in 2012 and been wowed by the wildflower planting there. The same year a friend had sowed seeds from the same company in a London front garden. The results were spectacular and long lasting. So I ordered a short annual mix from Pictorial Meadows with the intention of surrounding the wigwam with wildflowers.
Sowing and broadcasting the seeds was a great family activity. You can see more about how we did this at the day we sowed a wildflower meadow.
Since April we have been closely monitoring the progress of our little project. It has exceeded all expectations. May was really quiet with just a little growth on both the willow and the flowers. However as promised by mid June the whole area really started to explode.
Our criteria for low maintenance meant that I hadn’t planned to water this patch of land at all. This would have been fine with the rainfall we had last year, but this year we have had the driest summer since 2006. By early July the willow, water lover that it is, was really beginning to suffer and it looked as if a couple of the rods were beginning to die, so I succumbed to watering. I also had to weave in growing branches to form a mesh. I regretted not adding a ground cover inside the teepee at the time of planting. It was however mainly rogue raspberry canes popping up and possbily the ground cover would not of stopped them.
I have fallen in love with willow as a plant. The excess growth at the topof the teepee will be put to good use infilling gaps at the bottom. I hope there will be a few pieces spare so both I and my son can have a go at some willow weaving.
The Flowers have been the star of the show. I must point out that they are not actually wildflowers, but an annual mix specially designed to flower for as long as possible. I am calling it a meadow because it really has got that feel – so different from the planting in the rest of the garden.
The plot has flowered since mid June and now in September they are still going strong. They have been so successful I would recommend them to anyone with a sunny plot of land. Apart from pulling out a few weeds I have not touched them. No deadheading and no watering. It has been a delight to see the succession of flowers. The colours have moved from the pretty pastels of pink, mauve and blue as above to the hottest red and orange colours.
The packet of seed promised me a range of flowers
Fairy Toadflax Linaria maroccana
Red Flax Linum grandiflorum rubrum
Shirley Poppy Papaver rhoeas
Love-in-a-mist, Nigella damascena
Candytuft Iberis umbellata
Blue Flax Linum usitatissimum
These have all been blooming. However I seem to have had a number of other plants flowering. The most beautiful and stunning is the red and orange Golden Tickseed – Coreopsis Tinctoria. I am really chuffed to learnt more about annual flowers. They really are underated. I will be making sure I save seeds and hopefully the plants will self seed for next year. The best thing however is that I only used 1/2 the packet of seeds so I know I have stock for next year. I have been pleased I went for the short version of the annual mix. The growth has been upto 2 feet tall, which means it has not been battered too much by wind and rain. It has been interesting to note that whilst the bees and other insects such as hoverflies were visiting the plot in the early summer, as the summer draws on the bees seems to prefer my Cosmos and Echinacea elsewhere in my garden.
I’m looking forward to our meadow continuing well into October. When I look ahead to next year I already know that we will be having another family seed sowing session next spring. After that one piece of hard work we can then sit back and enjoy that part of the garden for the rest of the year. You can’t ask for anything better than that.
I am linking up this post with Countrykids at Coombemill . Please stop by there to see how other families have been enjoying the outdoors.