Sunday, May 02, 2010

Making meadows while the sun shines

I mentioned a little while ago in one of my endless posts about the on-going saga of the house move that I was stewing up a plan to tart up the neglected central section of my garden with a metaphorical coat of paint in the shape of some annual meadow flower seeds from Pictorial Meadows.

Just to reiterate what a state it was in throughout most of last year, here's the horror pic again:


I think I referred to the planting of a meadow as 'a quick fix'. What I had forgotten was that when you decide you're going to perk up the living room with a quick coat of matt emulsion, and then you get out the gear and start to actually do it, you find that first of all, the corners of the wallpaper need sticking down where they've started curling up... then that dent needs filling... and that bit where the kids threw a trainset at the wall and took a chunk out will need repapering altogether, which means I'll probably end up having to do the whole wall... and in the end you've got a huge job on your hands.

So it is with the creation of meadows from scrap land.

On the first occasion when it looked as if it would stay dry for more than six hours - which, it being March, was quite a while later - I sprayed the lot with glyphosate (I am what's generally known as pragmatically organic - i.e. I'll avoid chemicals wherever possible but when it's absolutely necessary, such as clearing weedy ground, I reach for the weedkiller).

And two weeks later the above weedy mess was reduced to this:


Still not pretty, but at least you could imagine you might be able to make something of it now. Good thing too, as by now my little 50g packet of seeds was on my windowsill and calling to me seductively every morning.

Right, I thought, I'll just hoe up the dead topgrowth and then I can rent a rotavator and have a fun day playing with power tools.

Unfortunately, some of the dead topgrowth proved less than willing to move. So I stuck in a fork to see what was going on. And this is what I found.


Seven year's worth of couch grass had not been so much as mildly inconvenienced by my single application of glyphosate: though the topgrowth had gone, the roots were hale and hearty and doing a passable impression of spaghetti.

By now I'd run out of time to allow more topgrowth to come through so I could apply a second round of weedkiller: and I'd learned my lesson from a certain TV gardener who has never quite lived down his decision to rotavate an allotment containing couch grass roots (which, I understand, he has now sensibly abandoned so someone else can dig them out properly). So - with a wistful glance in the general direction of the hire shop - I'm getting behind my trusty digging fork and painstakingly, painfully doing it all by hand.

Two hour-long sessions later - it's 15ft x 30ft, so we're not talking small patch here - and here's what it's looking like:


Nearly there. Hopefully I shall be able to bring you some prettier pictures soon. And next time I start wittering on about how easy something's going to be, bop me over the head or something until I start talking sense again.

5 comments:

elizabethm said...

I have abandoned my plan for a wildflower meadow and decided to go for planting wildflowers in what I laughingly call the orchard. Hence my greenhouse is full of trays of teasel and ox eye daisies, and other things which most people would call weeds.

La Petite Gallery said...

That is such a job. I am hoping to get this yard in shape and have a small garden..Maybe this week.
yvonne

The Constant Gardener said...

Ah Elizabeth - I once saw an orchard underplanted with wildflowers. It had paths mown through the trees grid-fashion and looked utterly, utterly gorgeous. Definitely something that I'd like to do one day.

LPG - go for it :D

Plant Mad Nige said...

Hi,
Sorry to use this as a communication point, but I don't have your email.

I'm writing a piece about selling houses with gardens in the Daily Mail and would like to mention your post about your buyers looking over the fence and saying 'That's the sort of garden be interested in.'

I'd simply describe you as a 'fellow blogger' and not be specific in any other respect.

Are you happy with that?
Please say if not.
Best
Nigel

The Constant Gardener said...

Hi Nigel - yes that would be fine (I just looked for your email but couldn't find it either - anonymity rules OK :D). If you want to email me for any more gory details it's sally dot nex at btinternet dot com - it's actually on my profile if you look hard enough :D

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