Perennial wildflower meadow
Successfully creating a perennial wildflower meadow was one of the ambitions we had when we took on Common Farm thirteen years ago. The land here is thick Somerset clay, and, at the time, our acres were cut about with fencing (no hedges,) there were no trees, and the only plant which grew here was a tough rye grass which had been sown to fatten cattle.
Fourteen years later and Fabrizio's dream of establishing patches of perennial wildflower meadows here are very much come to fruition. He has developed a strict regime of mowing, sowing, and planting out plug plants which have increased our wildflower collection to over and over again.
For him the skill is to mow so tightly in August that he almost scalps the ground, all mowings are removed right away from the wild areas to places lower than the wild, so that no goodness can run off from the cut grass heaps and increase the fertility of the meadows. He sows seed and grows them on as plug plants in the same way that we do with our other cut flower crops. And when he plants out he covers his at-risk-from-rabbits-pheasants-and-other-nasty-predators seedlings with wire cages until they're established.
Off the top of my head we have flowering here through the year:
wild fritillaries, dead nettle, cowslips, cowparsley, hogweed, corky fruited water dropwort, yellow rattle, knapweed, field scabious, devil's bit scabious, ox-eye daisy, wild pansies, fox and cubs, ladies' bedstraw, meadowsweet, evening primrose, wild carrot, marsh orchid, lesser spotted orchid, bee orchid, wild marjoram, wild mint, purple loosestrife, ragged robin, campion, wild bluebells, foxgloves, meadow cranesbill, buttercups, and not in the slightest bit foetid iris.
Fabrizio teaches a great deal more than this at his wonderful Perennial Wildflower Meadow workshops in June each year, when the meadow is in full flower, and really amazing to look at. We also have garden tours in June which you might to book a place on if you'd like to see the meadow along with the rest of the flower farm on a guided tour with me.
These both make wonderful Christmas presents.... Just a suggestion!