09 September 2020
It’s becoming a welcome routine, getting the wild flower bed ready for next year’s poppies.
There are other wild flowers in that bed too, of course, but it’s the poppies that seem to have become iconic. We did briefly moot the idea of a change as it seems to be getting harder to get a good display, but the unanimously horrified response soon put paid to that one. We were considering it as we felt the display wasn’t very good this year, when we had tried hoeing the ground as the ‘disturbing it’ part (see http://www.linsladememorialgardens.uk/2019/09/).
So we’ve had a think, and we’ve asked people who really know about these things, and the conclusion was:
1) Yes, poppies (and other cornfield annuals) do prefer disturbed ground …
2) … but it doesn’t necessarily have to be newly disturbed ground;
3) And yes, poppies do grow really well on farmland that’s been ploughed, and enriched …
4) … but they also grow wonderfully well where there have been roadworks, i.e., not fertilised ground.
So last Saturday, the team lifted all the old annuals and forked over the ground – it goes against the grain to remove so many stems and potential hibernation sites, but there are now plenty more amongst the perennial wild flowers in that bed, as well as scattered through all the other beds.
We’re trying to run the poppies deeper into the bed instead of just having a strip at the front; and we’ve also left just a few clumps of knapweed and scabious, to carry on after the cornfield annuals have finished. We’ve also moved a couple of clumps of knapweed there from the second bed, where they were shading out too many other flowers we wanted, and we tidied round the native geranium (G. sanguineum) in one corner of the bed, to help it establish and spread a bit more; and we left quite a bit of yarrow and black medick, while removing a lot of wild carrots – they look great, and their seedheads are suitably structural during winter, but when they get rained on and battered by storms in August, they can go a bit manky. And while some look great amongst the poppies, too many can dominate too much.
So here’s that bed a month or so ago:
And here it is now, unnaturally tidy, but ready for what we hope will be a great explosion of poppies, cornflowers and corn cockle next year: