Meadows formed the backbone of our countryside not very long ago, but they were largely lost with the intensification of agriculture after the second world war. They still provide an invaluable food resource for the whole food chain starting with a plethora of insects that live here.
Many butterflies such as small and large skippers, wall brown and gatekeepers lay their eggs on blades of grass and therefore it’s important for all of us to let an area of grass grow a bit wild. A few wild flowers might already be in the sward so start by waiting and seeing what you have got. It’s a good idea to try and reduce the nutrient content of the site by cutting and removing the hay for a few years or by digging the turf and removing a bit of topsoil. You can also expose soil by heavy scarifying with a rake or tractor.
Nature itself ‘sows’ its summer flowering plants’ seeds in autumn so now is a good time to have a go. You can introduce some locally occurring wild flowers onto the bare soil by sowing seeds or by planting plug plants. Sow a mixture of wildflower plants to suit your soil, and it’s good to include hay rattle as it parasitizes on grass roots keeping them in check. Yarrow, bird’s foot trefoil, knapweeds, lady’s bedstraw, oxeye daisies, selfheal, red clover are all good traditional meadow plants. Remember that meadows need to be cut once or twice per year.