Midsummer meadow

Oh, I admit it – not quite midsummer, and that’s because midsummer’s day itself was so vile that I could barely see the bottom of the garden. Never mind, I’m counting today – though it might have been revoltingly humid first thing, it has been an archetypal summer day. Especially in that you just know it’s not going to last.

In celebration, I spent a good half hour crawling around the meadow trying to photograph butterflies and bees and track down crickets.

Then I realised the meadow itself was doing a four-star thing of its very own, and I didn’t really need to add insects to make it more wonderful. This is why I let the meadow grow…

When this was a lawn, it was just an expanse of sloping, bumpy grass that was a pain to mow, and which was covered in dying-back daffodils for far too long. Now it’s fab, and apart from the Big Strim, really easy to maintain.

The pools of shade under the birches were most welcome, and it was while I was sitting there that I understood what a good wildflower mix the meadow is beginning to develop, and develop naturally. Tempting though it was at the start to order specific wildflower selections from seed companies, I managed to resist, and though I did try and add more ox-eye daisies deliberately, they didn’t germinate. It didn’t matter, because some cropped up naturally. I love the wildflower mixes, don’t get me wrong, but they often seem – well, artificial.

This would be a whole lot neater if I’d bought it from a catalogue, mind!

The buttercups and speedwells are well and truly over, but the St John’s Wort and the vetches are about to join in; there’s a lot of self-heal and the scarlet pimpernels are present in huge numbers where the meadow isn’t so high (well, they’ve moved to the veg beds; thanks, guys). The clover just keeps on going.

And then there are the hawkweeds, hawkbeards and hawksbits – and I’m not very good at telling them apart (except for orange hawksweed, of course). While I was sitting under the birches I noticed how beautiful the backs of them are:

And the fronts are pretty good too:

My father used to say that dandelions would be really valued as beautiful wildflowers if they weren’t so common, and I can see his point – they are worth looking at more closely (before you hoick them out). I’ve no intention of ripping any of these ‘dandelion-like flowers’ up; the only thing I do try and remove is blinking Oxford Ragwort. I wish yarrow would appear – I had some, but it vanished – and I’ve no umbellifers like cow parsley. Yet.

The grasses aren’t quite as varied as I’d like, but again that’s improving from year to year. This year there’s noticeably less Yorkshire Fog and coarse oat grass.

But there’s still plenty –  and I like Yorkshire Fog anyway.

It’s not quite as unbearably hot and sticky as it was, so I think I’ll just go and make myself a long tall drink of something wonderful – I fancy a pastis – and go and sit on the bench at the top of the meadow with a book.

Who knows, I might even catch a glimpse of one of the elusive crickets.

And I can store up this evening against winter – and probably the rest of the summer, if last year is anything to go by!

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17 thoughts on “Midsummer meadow

  1. hillwards

    Wonderful meadow – and a true summer’s day to while away there, how lovely! Hope there are many more around the corner! Think I would be easily distracted by the wildlife from trying to read much though…

    Reply
    1. kate Post author

      Indeed – precisely why I rip the bastard up. I can’t stop it getting in (there’s a wildy bit next door to me which is responsible, I think – I get bracken from there as well, and huge amounts of old man’s beard). At least I can stop ragwort spreading elsewhere from me, though. Happily there’s no Japanese knotweed or Himalayan balsam in the wildy bit (yet)…

      Reply
    1. kate Post author

      Thanks for this but I think I’m even more confused now!

      I went out with various wildflower guides (which are pretty inadequate, when it comes down to it, even Fitter’n’Fitter) when I spotted it, and It certainly fits the Oxford Ragwort (S. squalidus) description – the leaves look right (with a sharp end lobe – to my eye – rather than a blunt one). There’s none visible at present, but when it does manifest itself I’ll check even more carefully. Interesting that, contrary to myth, S. squalidus is not actually supposed to have spread very far geographically… how myths do get around. Common Ragwort (S. jacobaea, presumably?) sounds much more appealing. Whatever it is, there is a lot of it around me; it’s all over.

      Reply
  2. Neil

    Take a picture and put it on-line somewhere. If I can’t identify it. I know one of the world’s top experts on this group of plants.

    Reply
    1. kate Post author

      That’s a good idea — as soon as I’ve got one which is large enough (and flowering) I’ll take some close-ups and shove them on Flickr. Thanks for the help!

      Reply
  3. Harriet

    Glad the sun reached you in time to enjoy a day in it – it finally arrived in west Cork this afternoon! And your meadow is lovely. Our lawn, and I use the word very loosely as it’s really a mowed field, is resembling a meadow now as it’s been too wet to mow – pink and white clover, hawkweeds, buttercups, dandelions, daisies and lots of flowering grasses.

    Reply
    1. kate Post author

      They are, aren’t they? I must admit, though, that I do a bit of de-heading in areas where I’d like them to be a bit more restrained!

      Reply
    1. kate Post author

      It’s at its best now, I think, but it changes all the time.

      I didn’t go for yellow rattle, because I’d been warned that you can easily end up with a yellow rattle problem instead of a lawn grass problem. I knew there were chances it would be OK anyway, because of what grew between mowings if we weren’t quick enough: hawkweeds, self-heal, vetches, things like that. I did wonder about buying a hay bale from one of the local farmers – there are some people with good meadows – but in the end I let it do what it wanted. It took a couple of years, and there’s still one part which is a bit uninspired… I’m considering introducing some cow parsley deliberately. Maybe.

      Reply

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