Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Pictorial Meadows


I often look back from the pergola towards the steps up to the carpark and imagine the area as a carpet of flowers. Very meadowy, good bio-diverse credentials, beautiful to look at and requiring little in terms of ongoing maintenance.

Here in the southeast Dordogne, we are neither the Garrigue of the Meditteranean nor quite the pastoral meadows of southern England, rather somewhere in-between. Summer's can be hot but not always dry, frost can occur late into April and the soil is alluvial, this is limestone country. It has always left me a little uncertain as to a really good seed mix to sow.


Watching Sarah Raven's recent mini series on the beeb, 'Bees, Butterflys and Blooms' which featured some of the planting developed by Professor Nigel Dunnet, reminded me of a post from Noel Kingsbury's blog entitled, Sheffield - city of flowers.  Nigel's work has produced some beautiful annual and perennial seed mixes sold under the name Pictorial Meadows, and after much thought I decided to order 250 grammes of the 'Classic' annual mix yesterday morning, which at a suggested sowing rate of 3 grammes a square metre should give me a little more than I need to cover the 80 square metres or thereabouts I plan to sow.


I've maked out the rough shapes for each side of the path and under the Parasol pines. I'll get rid of the grass, rotavate the soil and get it to a fine tilth before sowing. I am excited - components of the flower mix include Shirley Poppy, California Poppy, Cornflower, Fairy Toadflax, Bishop's Flower, Tickseed and Corn Marigold, Black - eyed Susan, Red Orache and Larkspur.

To be continued.....


24 comments:

  1. It seems that people describe meadow flowers as low maintenance. But then list lots of work they do. I'll be interested to see how you go.
    I spent a small fortune on Flander's poppy seeds and did not get one bloom. Mind you it might have had something to do with poor planting technique. While I have seen the red poppy in Italy and France growing quite profusely in the wild.
    On the other hand California poppy does grow profusely here in the field. It has colonised us for sure. Here is a link
    http://thefieldofgold.blogspot.co.nz/2010/11/californias-state-flower-in-new-zealand.html?utm_source=BP_recent

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    1. Hi Kerry,

      I'm surprised the Flander's poppy didn't bloom for you. I've just been reading your post and colonise they have. Cheery souls mind.

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  2. Hi there! Your plan sounds wonderful! Having a meadowy area of flowers would be so nice and from the pics of your site it looks like it would suit this area well. Good luck with the mix! Will look forward to photos!

    P.S. Love your beautiful photos from the previous post.

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    1. Hi Andrea and thanks, I will post photos when they start into growth.

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  3. Rob,

    I've read so much about Dunnet's seed mixes I'm intrigued to see how it turn out for you. Since they're all annuals, do you have to reseed, or do you expect self-seeding to keep it all going over time? One thing, I'll bet it's more work than you hope. And another question: won't tilling stir up the seed bank and give you a crop of weeds amid your flowering plants?

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    1. James,

      Dunnet is heavily involved in the landscaping/planting for the London Olympic site.

      I'm aware that there is no such thing as maintenance free, so my eyes are open.

      As for the weed bank being disturbed by tilling, I'll follow Pictorial meadows advice to kill off any weed seedlings with 'a systemic weedkiller or remove by hand if you prefer'

      I'm going to use an annual mix, I don't expect much re-seeding and certainly will try to avoid by cutting back soon into Autumn as I'll try something else next year, different colour combination, maybe a perennial mix.

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  4. Cant' wait to see how it turns out! I think we all dream of low maintenance meadows...

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    1. Jen hi

      I'm actually excited, as to exactly how low maintenance, we'll see.

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  5. Great descriptions of your plans. So much space! Great that you can have dreams of meadows and actually make them a reality. Looking forward to looking at pictures of the space once it's been all accomplished. I'm sure it will turned out perfectly. I grow California poppies (course' I'm in California) and I HAVE to collect the seeds otherwise they take over everything. Even then, the seeds are so fertile and so successful at reseeding that I do remove lots of plants once the invade the space of other plants that are not as successful at it. Thank you.

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    1. Re-seeding Cal. poppies is not the worst problem to have.

      Aside, by the way, the Iris is particularly special to the French.

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  6. It sounds just wonderful, Rob, all those meadow flowers! Oh, how I too long for Summer... we've also had a very cold winter (again..)

    I envy your climate a little, when I see you've done "some" gardening in January. Lovely natural stone walls, it will certainly make an eyecathing impression filled with flowers and such this summer!

    Spring is not yet "in the air" but soon!
    Take care, Hillevi.

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    1. Hi Hillevi

      Thanks, I long for Summer too. I was rather enjoing this mild winter until all that changed at the beginning of February and we had some of the coldest winter weater for 35 years, brrrr.

      Roll on spring

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  7. I planted one bed last year with a flower mix and it was stunning, there seemed to be a bit of everything. The best really were the zinnias they just went on and on. Looking forward to seeing photos of your bed when the flowers are out. Diane

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  8. Hi Diane

    I've not grown zinnia for years.

    You'll know if it's been a success as I'll post the photos.

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  9. Oh how exciting Rob - that should make for a glorious splash of colour - keep us posted. I have recollections of reading a thread somewhere about 'Pictorial Meadows' seed mixes - will rack my brains and post you the link if I remember - it might even have been on Noel Kingsbury's blog :) Still have two episodes of Sarah Raven's series to watch and her new catalogue arrived in this morning's post.

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  10. Anna I liked Sarah Raven's series, though I expected not to.

    Nigel Dunnet has put together some beautiful landscapes at the Olympic site, you can find loads of stuff through google,

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  11. I can picture it now Rob - and it'll look fantastic! You've got a great mix of wild flowers there and if they all come up the colours will be fabulous and well worth all the hard work!

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  12. Outstanding Piece of Work,,,,

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  13. It looks like a great plan. Looking forward to the next stage.

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  14. Great plan with good flower choices. I've given over a section of my meadow garden to self-sowing blooms. Nigella seems to be the most prolific self-sowing flower in the world!

    I've not been blogging/visiting blogs lately. Off to France in a couple of weeks.

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  15. Site specific.

    Took decades but now I know:
    English daisys, mazus reptans, rudbeckia x fulgida fulgida, annual blue ageratum.

    All in a stone terrace with 1" spacing between stones in dirt.

    Of course some poa annua, talinum, chickweed get pulled.

    A joy to have this meadow in stone a reality.

    XO T

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  16. Rob - I have used some of the Pictorial Meadows seed mixes in clients gardens and the results have been stunning. I'll be interested to see how yours develops, I'm sure you won't be disappointed.

    Johnson

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  17. We used it last year, the annual mix was lovely, lots of toadflax followed on by poppies, cornflowers and lots of other stuff. We have saved some of the seeds. But I was disappointed in the Woodland Edge perennial mix - almost no germination. Maybe it was me. Also, the annual mix was much more successful in a prepared bed - I sprinkled a bit onto some rough ground and the plants were much scrawnier.

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    1. I'm sorry to hear about the woodland edge mix. Maybe worth another try.

      I've prepared the 'beds' for the 'classic' annual mix which I sowed just over a week ago. Thanks for the comment, It's interesting to hear others experiences.

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