Meadows of the Olympic Park put wild flowers back in fashion with gardeners

Wildflowers at RHS Garden, Harlow Carr, Yorkshire. Picture: PA Photo/Jerry Harpur.
Wildflowers at RHS Garden, Harlow Carr, Yorkshire. Picture: PA Photo/Jerry Harpur.

Wild flowers are back in fashion, according to reports on their sales.

In the past year, sales of UK wildflower seeds have increased by 60 per cent, thanks partly to renewed interest fuelled by the stunning wild flower meadows at the Olympic Park in 2012.

The combined elements of eye-catching visual impact, ecological awareness and wildlife value have fuelled sales of wild flower seeds among many of the main seed companies, including Thompson & Morgan, Suttons and Mr Fothergill’s.

With this in mind, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) is playing its part during National Gardening Week, April 15-21, as its gardens across the country host talks, demonstrations and events to get gardeners growing wildflowers.

Young gardeners will be encouraged to get their hands dirty and learn how to sow their own wild flower meadow, perfect for attracting birds, bugs and creepy crawlies of all types.

More experienced gardeners can find out how to support the wildlife in their gardens through a range of talks and interactive workshops on beekeeping, managing meadows and more.

Ian LeGros, curator at RHS Garden Hyde Hall in Essex, said: “Wild flowers are currently going through a massive boom in popularity and are set to be one of the big trends for amateur gardening in 2013.

“They are easy to plant and maintain, provide much needed habitats for wildlife and are valuable sources of nectar and pollen for bees and other pollinators.

“Encouraging wildlife and pollinators is particularly important in urban areas, so if you’ve a sunny patch of dry ground that won’t support much else in your front garden, it’s time to convert it into a wild flower meadow.”

He cautions that wildflowers are easy to grow but, like all plants, need the right conditions if they are going to thrive. Gardeners should check soil type and find a mix that will work for it.

If you have poor soil perennial wild flowers will do very well as there will be fewer grasses for them to compete with. Buy seed mixes that contain ox-eye daisies, yarrow, harebells, birdsfoot trefoil, cowslips, lady’s bedstraw, betony, yellow rattle and others for waving drifts of colour.

Time of sowing a meadow is important. An annual seed mix containing cornflowers and poppies will do better if sown in the autumn.