The magic of meadows

We’re taking advantage of a few predicted dry days to get on with cutting the hay meadows at Rosemoor

Daily visits by a large ‘charm’ of goldfinches indicate many of the wildflowers have now set seed. It’s a wonderful sight: our changing practices have encouraged them into the garden. Areas of species-rich meadow have been allowed to develop instead of being mown regularly – a lengthy process, but worth the wait. On a sunny day, butterflies flit from flower to flower across the meadow, looking for nectar or larval food plants to lay their eggs. Knapweed is a popular nectar source for meadow brown butterflies.

The yellow rattle, Rhinanthus minor, has been key to our meadows' establishment - it's semi-parasitic on grass, and helps reduce its vigour, creating less competition, so wildflowers get a foothold. It is an annual plant that flowers in late May to early July and when shaken its pods full of ripe seed rattle, hence its name.

The seed becomes scattered and ready to germinate for the following season, when the meadows are cut and spun with the tractor-mounted haybob. To enhance the floral display plants, more wildflower plugs will be planted in the autumn. Seed trays have been sown with meadowsweet, ragged robin and salad burnet in the nursery, and as they germinate, will be pricked out into plug trays ready for planting in September – autumn will allow time for them to establish for next year’s display. The meadows at RHS Garden Rosmoor have really added a new dimension when visiting the gardens.
 


Useful links

Find out more about wildlife friendly gardening with Wild About Gardens

See how to create your own wildflower meadow with RHS Gardening Advice

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