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Wildflower Meadow at Chalice Well

The meadow has been looking particularly beautiful in the early autumn sunshine. The light, already mellowing, illuminates a hundred suns of corn marigold (Glebionis segetum), their central pads filled with pollen. All are celebrated in the flowering rays of the Buddleja x weyeriana ‘Sungold’, also often full of feasting bees and butterflies. The bright yellows shine in contrast to the misty purple-blues of scabious and knapweed (Centaurea nigra). The area is full of Achillea millefolium, meadow grasses and seed heads; and in the wind, sheltering dragonflies and ladybirds.

When designing planting for a garden, we often consider shape, colour, texture; carefully selecting trees, shrubs and other plants according to need, position and maintenance. Every aspect of petal, leaf, interaction and interconnection can be considered, tweaked, anticipated, then edited for best effect. It is engaging work and one of the best ways to learn about plants.

However, for all and any planning, the garden only truly comes to life when nature infuses it with its own design. Embracing this, as a partnership, a co-creation, we see anew ~ the way the light shines through a leaf form; a ratio of colour that enlivens rather than clashes; a self-sown plant woven in a way that softens our view; the form of a flower as it drops its petals and slowly dies away; the spider who sees the stems as anchor for its intricate web… We send out the invitation and nature, already there, meets us, often unseating us with the unexpected; with its beauty and engagement; and inevitably, with its destruction and decay into a new form.

Meadow steps

A wildflower meadow can be a lovely example of such partnership. It requires preparation to ensure a mix of species and interest and if chosen, annual cutting back and some thoughtful editing to support the balance of plants. Most of the time, it grows in its own abundant way, providing inspiration for us and habitat for those that choose it. In the recent high winds, we would find up to 20 dragonflies basking in the sunshine on the steps, rails and stems, lifting away and re-settling as we passed through. To be a part of that is a remarkable kind of magic.

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