I would like to sow a small wildflower garden, wondering if it will work to plant spring bulbs too?
Area to sow is around 12x5m, will not be walked upon. Freshly laid, fairly poor quality soil. I would like summer colour, but ideally spring colour too (and throughout the year if possible). Would planting a range of spring bulbs work, not sure if they would die back enough before I would need to sow the wild flower seed? Any thoughts appreciated. Thanks. Chris
Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Hi Chris; Spring flowering bulbs should have been planted earlier, in fall. But there are some summer flowering bulbs that can be planted in early spring. I don't see any reason not to over-seed in and around your bulbs with wildflowers.
Since you know that your soil is "fairly poor quality", why don't you put a little effort into soil improvement now, which will benefit all the plantings throughout the season. Incorporate compost and a complete, mineralized organic fertilizer.
Here are a couple of articles from the UK Royal Horticultural Society that may help:
And this one applies to ornamental garden soil as well as veggies:
There are several important points to share. To establish a permanent wildflower garden, you will be weeding regularly for a couple of years while the plants get established. (sorry, not what you wanted to read) If there were weeds in the area, weed seeds already in the soil will pop up faster than many or your desirable plants. Therefore, you should plan on making paths in your bed, wide enough so you can kneel and weed. Think of it as mimicking animal paths that naturally go through meadows. Be careful where you get your seed mix: "wildflower" is not the same thing as native plant and has no technical meaning. See if you can find a native plant nursery near you that sells seed. Those are the plants that are genetically geared to do well in your location. General wildflower mixes are often a blend of annuals like cosmos and easy to grow perennials like coneflower. Native plants in your area will be hardy and can be sown over-winter. Covering the seed lightly with straw will help prevent it from washing out. A generic wildflower mix may not be frost tolerant so read the package carefully. I've read that some USA native flowers are currently popular in the UK. If you buy US, use a native plant nursery with similar growing conditions to yours. Their websites have lots of information on getting started. Here is one example: https://www.prairiemoon.com. Mixing in spring ephemerals is fine if they aren't aggressive spreaders. The plants won't interfere with seed sowing. One challenge you face is being able to distinguish a weed seedling from a desirable one. You will have a blank growing area for a few weeks and invasive plant seeds will work their way in, unfortunately.