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HomeGardeningRewilding the garden | Weblog at Thompson & Morgan

Rewilding the garden | Weblog at Thompson & Morgan

This white tailed bumble bee is having fun with selfheal flowers which have spontaneously popped up in an unmown garden
Picture: Plantlife

Which might you select? A barren desert wasteland? Or a tapestry of untamed flowers teaming with bugs, mammals and birds?

Lawns are nice for leisure and as a foil to vibrant planting, however they’re additionally wildlife wastelands. Simply 1% of our countryside is species-rich grassland however Plantlife means that ‘with 15 million gardens in Britain, our lawns have the potential to turn into main sources of nectar’, serving to to reverse alarming declines in our insect populations and assist a bunch of different wildlife.

You don’t must lose the garden utterly, however listed here are 3 ways to permit some wildness into your garden, beginning with the simplest.

1. Make a Small Change to your Mowing Regime

Lawn full of dandelions and daisies

Frequent species corresponding to dandelions and daisies will address some mowing. In response to Plantlife, “simply 8 dandelion flowers would possibly produce sufficient nectar sugar to fulfill an grownup bumblebee’s baseline power wants.”
Picture: Plantlife

“Extremely easy adjustments in mowing can lead to sufficient nectar for ten instances extra bees and different pollinators” (Plantlife)

The garden beneath your ft has the potential to be a biodiversity hotspot and also you solely have to do one factor: nothing! You don’t must cease mowing utterly, however attempt to combine your mowing regime up a bit by following a number of the following recommendations:

• Stop mowing only for a number of weeks in Might and June
• Elevate the peak of reduce or mow much less regularly
• Enable only a part of the garden to develop lengthy and mow the remainder


Painted lady butterfly on purple knapweed flower

Lengthy grass permits taller species like Knapweed to flower, attracting butterflies corresponding to this painted woman
Picture: Plantlife


Knowledge from Plantlife’s surveys has proven that a mixture of quick and lengthy grass is good. The shorter grass permits vegetation like daisy, white clover and hen’s-foot trefoil to flower, which may increase nectar manufacturing tenfold. Longer grass helps a wider vary of plant species, permitting taller vegetation like oxeye daisies, discipline scabious and pink clover to develop up and bloom. The taller grass additionally supplies meals, shelter and nesting habitats for bugs.


A wildlife meadow with a close mown path cut through the middle

Permitting a few of your grass to develop lengthy doesn’t imply giving up on design. In truth, the contrasting textures of lengthy and quick grass can be utilized to nice impact in backyard design, with mown areas creating paths, defining areas or carving out shapes
Picture: JoeGough, Canva

Each Flower Counts

Two children doing quadrant surveys as part of Every Flower Counts

You by no means know what thrilling species would possibly flip up in your garden! In 2021 individuals who took half in No Mow Might reported over 250 plant species together with rarities corresponding to meadow saxifrage, snake’s-head fritillaries, and wild orchids.  
Picture: Plantlife

Each Flower Counts is a citizen science survey organised by Plantlife. The survey goals to supply a snap-shot of which flowers are most plentiful on our lawns and the way a lot nectar they’re producing. There’s nonetheless time to participate – the subsequent survey is from 9 to 17 July. It doesn’t matter whether or not you’ve mown your garden or not – Plantlife are eager to know the way mowing impacts flowering and nectar manufacturing, so your outcomes will present invaluable information.

2. Introduce some wildflower plugs into your garden

Close up of ox-eye daisy flower with a hoverfly on it

By planting wildflower plugs you possibly can improve the wildflower species in your garden and revel in showier beauties corresponding to these perennial ox-eye daisies
Picture: Plantlife

When you’ve relaxed your mowing regime, go one step additional and introduce some wildflower plugs into your garden. Plugs might be bought, or you possibly can sow your individual:

  • Sow tiny pinches of wildlife seed straight into modular cells in spring or autumn. Sowing in spring is preferable, as then the plugs will likely be able to plant out in your garden within the autumn, which is the most effective time for institution.
  • Skim off patches of grass together with your spade and plant about 5 plugs per sq. metre into these patches, firming and watering them in effectively.
  • Mark your plug vegetation with a cane.
  • Preserve the grass quick round your new plug vegetation and make sure that they’re repeatedly watered. Be particularly vigilant if you’re planting within the spring.

Yellow Rattle

Close up of yellow rattle flowers

Yellow rattle (Rhinanthus minor)
Picture: Canva

Lawns comprise vigorous grasses which compete with wildflower species for moisture, vitamins and lightweight. Tackling this by eradicating turf and nutrient-rich topsoil is backbreaking work, however a intelligent and weird trying plant referred to as yellow rattle may help to do the job for you.

Yellow rattle is an annual wildflower which parasitises grasses, feeding off the vitamins of their roots and weakening them. This enables wildflowers and finer grasses to thrive.

Sowing your individual yellow rattle might be tough, as a result of, for good germination, it’s essential to pay money for contemporary seed. Nonetheless, I’ve had success with yellow rattle plugs which might be ordered now prepared for spring planting. Plant these out as described above and keep away from mowing till mid-July/August. By this time, the dried seed pods will rattle when shaken, scattering seed over the garden to determine spreading colonies the next 12 months.

3. Sow a mini-meadow

That is essentially the most labour-intensive technique of re-wilding your garden however will set up a large range of species inside one season. While it might not be an choice for the entire of your garden, why not strive it for only a part?

The place?
Select an open, sunny space which is freed from pernicious weeds corresponding to nettle and thistles and ideally a website with nutrient-poor soil. Wealthy soil will promote the expansion of vigorous weeds and grasses which is able to outcompete the wildflowers.
The perfect time is August – September. Alternatively, March-April.
For a perennial meadow which comes up 12 months after 12 months with little upkeep, the seed combine ought to embrace largely perennial (not annual) wildflowers, plus some tremendous meadow grasses.
Select a combination which is suited to your soil sort and your locality. It’s a good suggestion to get out into close by countryside and familiarise your self with the wildflowers rising in your space.

  • Take away the turf and about 3-6” (7-15cm) of prime soil.
  • Dig over or rotovate the soil to create a tremendous tilth, eradicating any weeds
  • Scatter the seed on the really helpful price. Because the seed must be unfold very thinly, it’s helpful to combine it with a provider corresponding to sand or bran, at a ratio of three-five components sand to certainly one of seed. Rake over gently and tread the seed into the soil.
  • Water in effectively.


  • Proceed to maintain the realm well-watered
  • Dig out any pernicious weeds which seem corresponding to nettles, docks or thistles.
  • Lower from late July onwards when the seeds have ripened. Select a dry day and permit the cuttings to drop, leaving them to dry for per week earlier than raking them up and eradicating all particles.
  • Mow once more within the autumn and in early spring of the next 12 months if the grass has grown lengthy. Keep away from mowing April to late July.

“As a result of many bugs want little area to outlive, even partial conversion of lawns to minimally disturbed pure vegetation—say 10%—may considerably help insect conservation”

(PNAS Jan 21 “Eight easy actions that people can take to save lots of bugs from international declines)

Tortoiseshell butterflies feeding on wild Scabious flowers

Tortoiseshell butterflies discover these nectar-rich scabious flowers irresistible
Picture: Canva

Wilding up even a small a part of your garden can result in thrilling outcomes, and it doesn’t should be arduous work. I made my very own mini-meadow by decreasing mowing and planting in wildflower plugs. It has been fascinating to see what has popped up within the garden – selfheal, hawkbits and scarlet pimpernel have all arrived spontaneously. My mini-meadow is just a little wildlife haven: bumblebees heavy with pollen forage on the knapweed, damselflies relaxation delicately on tall grass blades, froglets disguise within the cool damp shelter while twittering goldfinches feast off seeds.

For the reason that Thirties, we have now misplaced practically 7.5 million acres of flower-rich meadows, however as gardeners, we are able to make a big contribution to reversing this lack of habitat. So go on! Unlock the potential of your garden and let just a little wildness in. You possibly can flick through our wildflower seeds right here.


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