The hay has been saved!
Our “Bulb Lawn/High Grass/Wildflower Patch” has come to the final cycle of its year; we cut everything to the ground last week and took it all away – the “saving” bit. After months of changing appearances it has been brought back to basics, to its off-season appearance, to being just a patch of grass again and, to be honest, grass is quite uninteresting. We didn’t quite save the hay this year. In previous years we had hens and I always left the grass on the ground for a week or so, depending on the weather, turning it everyday so as to dry it out and I then stored it to line the laying nest in the henhouse. This year, it was cut, collected and put on the compost heap all in the one day.
The Bulb Lawn began about ten years ago when we were given access to large numbers of the common snowdrop in a garden which had been abandoned in the 1950s. We lifted sackfuls, brought them home, separated and cleaned them and planted several thousand individually in an area between two large flower beds – it became our Bulb Lawn. These are all the common snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis, and come into flower in February. They have already begun to thicken up and, hopefully, will look better with passing years.
We gradually added further bulbs to the area. Crocus, which had been used in pots for spring display, were an easy option and, as the corms are small, they were very easy to plant – I push a stick into the ground to make a hole and drop the corms/bulbs into the holes. We add some each year as we empty to spring pots.
Daffodils always look at home growing in grass. They have been traditionally used as an underplanting in orchards and do very well in these situations. I found some old daffodils in the same garden as where the snowdrops were sourced. I later found a name for them – or names, I should say, as I found it had acquired several names over the centuries: ‘Van Sion’, ‘Telemonius Plenus’ and even ‘Butter and Eggs’. It loves the conditions and is doing very well. I have added a good number of Narcissus poeticus, the Pheasant Eye narcissus, but have found they have not done so well and, despite adding several dozen last year, I had very few appear this spring. Narcissus ‘Tete-a-Tete’, of course, romps away. A great addition two years ago was Camassia cusickii, a small camassia which only grows to 50cm, just the same height as the grass when it is at it highest. It has worked so well that I have added a few dozen more bulbs this year – lifted from a clump elsewhere in the garden.
Sometimes, good fortune smiles on our choices in the garden and so it was with a planting of a few bulbs of the Snakeshead Fritillary, Fritillaria meleagris. It became obvious within a few years that the conditions suited them perfectly because they began self-seeding generously and within a few years had made a good spread. We have since collected the seed each year and spread it about a bit more in hopes of getting an even bigger display of the fritillarias.
A gift of some Common Spotted Orchids, Dactylorhiza fuchsii subsp. fuchsii, from a friend who had them growing wild in her garden changed the nature of the Bulb Lawn forever. They flower into July, after the other bulbs have gone over and at a time when I had previously cut the grass. With them in flower I could no longer cut so early but had to leave this into August so the Bulb Lawn became, variously, the High Grass or the Wildflower Patch and, to help the wildflowers get a foothold in the rich grass sward, I sowed Yellow Rattle which is semi-parasitic on grass and so reduces its vigour.
With this longer season, a greater selection of wildflowers arrived and it can be very interesting to see how the display can change from year to year. It can be difficult to understand how the selection can change so much from one season to the next. One year we had a beautiful covering of the lightest blue with Field Forget-me-not covering the whole area. In another, it was the yellow of Smooth Hawksbeard. Daisies, Creeping and Meadow Buttercup and Ribwort Plantain are the staple wildflowers but Lady’s Smock is beginning to make an appearance and Ragged Robin has appeared on one occasion. The appearance of a seedling geranium, a garden plant growing nearby, poses an interesting question: is this plant a weed when growing in the wildflower patch?
To read more Six on Saturday blogs go to The Propagator’s entry for today: https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2020/08/15/six-on-saturday-15-08-2020/ ,scroll down to the comments and you will find other bloggers have posted links to their Saturday entry there. Lots to read!