There comes a point each year when the wildflower meadow begins to look tatty. Only a few weeks ago, it was a rich burst of pinks, purples and lilacs, with splashes of yellow, but now the majority of the flowers have gone to seed. The question arises, as it does each year: when shall we cut it?
Common Blue in the Seeding Wildflower Meadow
To my eyes it is still extraordinarily beautiful: every flat round seedhead of oxeye daisy is full of new life, every little ball of knapweed seed, every spike of plantain, every pod of vetchling and trefoil, every plume of meadow foxtail. There are pockets full of little round bedstraw and quaking grass seedheads. There are tufts of thistledown and fat fingers of yellow rattle. While some of these will find space to add to the wildflower meadow itself, many will be shaken off over the grassland, extending the beauty next year.
Amidst the soft creams and countless hues of rich to dusty brown, there are still the occasional flowers: pale lilac field scabious and yellow meadow vetchling, the last of the knapweeds and cranesbills. And more wonderfully still, it is humming with life. There are carder bees and bumblebees, grasshoppers and crickets, voles and shrews, and – when the sun breaks through the clouds – countless butterflies, dragonflies and day-flying moths.
The common blues and gatekeepers are the most common butterflies, fluttering amidst the seedheads. You will also spot six spot burnet moths resting on the last knapweed flowers. With such beauty amidst the seeds, we can’t possibly mow yet.
Common Blue on Meadow Vetchling