Autumn Wildflowers: End of Season Maintenance

Autumn Wildflowers: End of Season Maintenance

Depending on what kind of wildflower plot you have will determine your end of season jobs. The arrival of Autumn brings in a season of change in our gardens and meadows. As Summer’s vibrant blooms are fading, it’s time to get out and get ready for the colder months. We get a lot of joy from wildflowers and as temperatures cool they become a vital support for wildlife providing shelter and food. To help your wildflower meadow remain a source of beauty and biodiversity next season, here’s a few things to think about for your end of season maintenance.

Assess Your Plot

Before diving into maintenance tasks, take a moment to assess your wildflower plot. Note which species are still in bloom, which are going to seed, and any areas that may need special attention. This will help you prioritise necessary tasks and which we can leave to nature!

Saving Your Seeds

Autumn is a great time for seed collecting and sowing seeds. As your wildflowers mature, many will produce seeds that you can harvest for future plantings or share with fellow gardeners. You can find everything from collecting and storing to sowing in this guide. By harvesting and sowing seeds, you’ll infuse fresh life into your wildflower meadow or garden bed, ensuring its continued vibrancy.

Cutting Back

Once the majority of your wildflowers have set seed and dispersed it, it’s time to cut back. Use hand pruners or a scythe to trim the vegetation to a height of about 10-12cm/4-6 inches. You can leave the cuttings in place for a day or two to allow any remaining seeds to drop. Make sure to remove excess material, otherwise it will create a thatch which could block out next seasons growth. Another option is to leave cutting until Spring – this leaves patches untouched for wildlife – particularly insects, so they can hibernate over winter. Birds can feed and spiders make webs. Leaving heaps of brash and grass leaves shelter for lots of different creatures such as hedgehogs!

Weeding

The ever present job! Autumn (along with most other seasons) is an excellent time to tackle any persistent perennial weeds that may have invaded your plot. By consistently keeping weeds under control your native wildflowers will have the space they need to bloom!

Feeding Your Soil

Add organic matter to your soil such as fallen leaves or seaweed on top of your soil – this will help ensure that your soil is well fed and retains its moisture. This layer will also act as a mulch to help protect the soil and the fauna that live there and keep weeds at bay.

Managing Grasses

If you are maintaining a meadow, a great wildflower to try is Yellow Rattle – Rhinanthus minor, it is a hemi-parasitic wildflower that slows down grass growth, giving other wildflowers a better chance at getting established.

Head Start for Spring

As you wrap up for Autumn, it can be a good time to take note on the season and make plans for the Spring ahead. Perhaps a certain species didn’t do so well and you need some seeds to secure its continued presence in your meadow or bed. Autumn is a great time for sowing indoors in a green house or polytunnel, seedlings will grow slowly over winter and give plants a little head start on Spring.

Autumn jobs are a great way of ensuring the continued beauty and biodiversity of your garden. By following these seasonal tips, you’ll be well-prepared to enjoy the stunning colours and support local wildlife in your wildflower meadow for seasons to come!

Happy gardening!

Stay tuned for more exciting news and join the movement to conserve our native wildflowers for generations to come! Together, we can make a real difference.

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We are searching for a Fundraising Trustee to help us raise capital for The Native Irish Seed Vault, if you are interested, please get in touch via debbie@trueharvestseeds.org

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