Book Review: Making Wildflower Meadows

Wildflower meadows have for some years been gaining ground (no pun intended) in the world of horticulture and gardening fashion, yet they have been seriously losing ground everywhere else: 98% of our wildflower hay meadowshave been destroyed in the past 60 years, advises the author. And really authoritative books on the subject of managing them are also scarce, so Pam Lews’s neat and thorough little volume is welcome.

Topics covered include:

  • Chapters which cover different types of meadow for various soils and locations
  • How to make and maintain them
  • Historical background to the original meadow landscapes
  • Ways of bringing meadow-type habitats into smaller gardens

    ‘The fastest way to achieve a meadow is to scrape off the topsoil and sow a specially selected seed mix into the subsoil.’ – Pam Lewis

    Mrs Lewis takes a conservationist’s approach to making gardens, and the spectacular results can be seen in her own garden, Sticky Wicket, in Dorset (which is regularly open to the public). There the flower-rich grassy acres hum with vitality and the enormously varied web of life which inhabits them.

    ‘My own interest in meadows had begun during the 20 years I was actively involved with the management of grassland – on farmland, downland and horse pasture,’ Mrs Lewis writes. ‘During the past 15 years I have been working on several meadows of a more domestic nature, in addition to my own.’ Such a thorough immersion in the subject has paid off.

    Nevertheless, it is a book which is drawn from extensive records built up over a long period of time and the style is personal – and sometimes it takes uite a long read to extract the information for which you may be looking.

    Its photographs beautifully capture the varied flora of Sticky Wicket, from the fascinating parasitic yellow rattle to laced spider’s webs among the kanpweed.

    This story of perseverance, trial,error and ultimate success will encourage anyone making, or contemplating making, a similar landscape habitat.

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