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Blossoming miracle instead of uniform green

Marguerites, red carnations and meadow bellflowers have become quite rare in the open landscape. Let’s give them a home in our gardens! (Source: L. Domdey)

They can still be found on extensive grassland on the Baar or in remote valleys of the Black Forest and the Swabian Alb: Fragrant flower meadows full of different herbs and grasses, impressive for their flowering splendour and biodiversity.

How is it that you can enjoy this diversity in nature, but at the same time fight it in your own garden? Many front gardens are characterised by match short ornamental lawns. They look sterile, look as if they have sprung directly from the garden catalogue and are actually a rape of nature. Such front garden slipperiness is caused by the lawn mower, which once a week mows down the greenery.
in front of the house and stretches the nerves of the neighbours. Yarrow or meadow bellflower hardly have a chance here. If a daisy or dandelion comes up nevertheless once, they are bitten out individually, after one may not eliminate them no more with weed-Ex.
However, anyone who has kept a sense for nature will increasingly realise that the standard lawn is not only boring to look at in the long run, but also has no ecological value whatsoever.

So how about a flower meadow in the garden ? After all, hundreds of different animal species can be found there. In particular these are insect species, e.g. butterflies such as chessboard butterflies or blues, but also many kinds of bees and beetles.

To the meadow inhabitants belong beside blindworms and lizards also grass frogs and ground breeders, which look for a shady hiding place in the high grass. Who knows that small birds find up to four times more food on a meadow than on a lawn?

In addition, a flower meadow is easy to maintain: it only needs to be cut twice a year, requires no fertilization and even helps to save water: Moisture is stored in the high grass and artificial irrigation is no longer necessary.

How can we turn our green carpet into a sea of flowers? The simplest option is to mow the area only twice a year, for example in early June and early September. If you keep the mowing dates for several years, you can assume that a species-rich meadow will develop.
The mown grass must of course be removed, otherwise the meadow will become matted.

How quickly a success becomes visible depends strongly on the soil condition of the garden: the less nutrients are contained in the subsoil, the more plant species thrive. A meadow on stony limestone soil will be more varied and colourful than one on nutrient-rich loamy soil. Nutrient-poor soils above primary rock provide a habitat for very special meadow dwellers. The bristle grass grasslands of the Black Forest are adjusting.

If you have regularly fertilized your lawn to promote grass growth, you will need a few years of patience before wild herbs will settle again on their own. In order to remove excess nutrients, you can still mow more often in the first year.

The process of transforming a lawn can also be accelerated: In some places the soil is torn open and the lawn is removed. This gives meadow flowers the opportunity to settle, which would otherwise have to struggle against the grasses. From there they can spread throughout the lawn.

This gives the garden owner the opportunity to follow the development of his flower meadow from the very beginning. It is interesting to observe how the number of animal and plant species that depend on the meadow as their habitat increases over time.

Who has less patience, can also sow a meadow. Some commercially available wildflower mixtures, however, are not necessarily recommended. They often contain species from North America or the Mediterranean. In addition, the seeds often include annual wild herbs. Many a garden lover has already noticed that the colourful meadow from the first year after sowing in the following year had little to offer in terms of colour.

When buying a meadow mixture, it is therefore important to ensure that the proportion of grasses is as low as possible. It is best to select the flower seeds separately according to species and thus put together a mixture that is suitable for the soil in your own garden. While spring vetchling and meadow cranesbill are comfortable on fresh and heavy soil, carnation, limeweed and viper’s head prefer light, dry ground. A mixture could also consist of prize money, chicory, colourful crown vetch, meadow flake flower and various clover and grass varieties.

Another tip: During a walk in the Bregtal or on the Fürstenberg at the right time of the year, you can collect a lot of site-specific seeds from the roadsides and meadows.
What should I bear in mind when sowing?

The most favourable time for sowing is between May and August, as the temperature should be at least 8°C. The best time for sowing is between May and August. Experienced garden owners will rather wait a little on the Baar, because frost is not uncommon here also in May. If you want to be on the safe side, you can attract the seeds in small pots. The average quantity of seeds is 5-10 g/qm, the maximum sowing depth is 5mm. The seeds are slightly raked under, firmly pressed and regularly watered for 6 weeks.

From sowing to mowing: Once the flower meadow is standing, the conventional lawn mower will be overwhelmed. Therefore, it makes sense to use a scythe or, depending on the size of the plot, a bar mower. Handling the scythe is particularly useful on steep slopes, although it is not easy to learn. The mowed material is suitable as mulch for bushes and fruit trees or for composting. Small pets can be fed with it if no poisonous plants are present. Only dwarf rabbits are happy about hay from their own garden.

However, a garden should not only be a biotope, but also a place where people can relax. For those parts of the garden that are intended as playgrounds and playgrounds, a turf of flowers is an ideal intermediate form on which daisies, broad-leaved plantain and speedwell still grow. It is cut every three to four weeks. Lawns have their meaning where they are regularly walked on like a football field. No flower meadow can withstand this. In most front gardens, on the other hand, it is forbidden to enter the lawn!

Gerhard Bronner

What’s the neighbor saying?

For many it may be an obstacle to a flower meadow that the neighbours watch suspiciously how dandelions and other flowers seed themselves. She fears seed flight and weeds, and before you burden the good-neighbourly relationship, you’d rather do without the flower meadow.

In such a case, a compromise would be to mow a strip further along the neighbouring plots as a lawn and only let the rest of the garden grow tall. In case it gets tough and the neighbour threatens with the lawyer against daisies and yarrow: In the neighbourhood law it is regulated that the seed flight must be accepted by naturally settling herbs. The situation is different when flowers are planted. Then the neighbour actually has a right to stop the seed flight. So this is another argument to wait patiently when converting a lawn.

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