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Wednesday 3 August 2022

Have We Reached Peak Wild Flower?

 & #WowOnWednesday

Gail Hanlon visits the Superbloom display at the Tower of London

Dear friends. A few years ago, municipal flower beds, certainly in the UK, were filled with bedding plants in straight lines. Wild flowers were classed as weeds. But ever since the 2012 London Olympics, the trend has swung round to wild flowers, sown with abandon. 

The Tower of London has embraced the trend and this year's Superbloom event has encouraged thousands of people to meander along the moat, filled not with water but with a mix  of annual and perennial wild flowers. 

We went to see the wild flowers this week - it was a family day out with John's two sisters and his brother, who all live locally. 

The flowers were probably at their best a few weeks ago, but successive planting means there are always new plants to admire.  

Below: left to right, John's sisters Kate and Susan, me and sister-in-law Yvonne 

The backdrop is the stunning and iconic Tower of London. Building started in 1078 and was completed in 1100.  Approaching the Tower always gives me a tingling feeling:  I think of Anne Boleyn being rowed to the Tower in a small boat, awaiting her fate of being beheaded. 

There's a fascinating juxtaposition between the ancient Tower and the modern skyscrapers around it. 

After a pleasant meander through the pollinators and wild flowers, we were snapped with Tower Bridge behind us. 

Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton with family in front of Tower Bridge in London

I was dressed for comfort as I was in London for the day and was going on to an art exhibition and finally an early dinner. I wore my white denim skirt, sleeveless V neck top in Hawaii and belt by Kettlewell, and Nike trainers. 

Growing Your Own Wild Flowers

It's not easy, as anyone who has randomly thrown seeds around their garden will probably know. The flowers can quickly be overcome by too many grasses.  And the biggest challenge is that wild flowers prefer poor quality soil.  Most of our gardens have been richly fertilized with compost.  

To achieve the wonderful wild flower meadows of the 2012 London Olympics,  (see John's picture below), the mix was perfected over two years of trial runs in 2010 and 2011. The meadows needed a horticultural haircut known as the "Chelsea chop" in late spring to set back the plants and ensure everything was in flower in late July, rather than in May, June and early July, when they'd naturally bloom. 

Pot marigolds (Calendula officinalis), tickseed (Coreopsis tinctoria) and corn marigold hybrids (Chrysanthemum segetum) combined to create the designers' hoped-for "ribbon of gold" around the stadium.

Wild flowers around the ArcelorMittal Orbitat at the London 2012 Olympics

If you want to try it yourself, it's easy to get boxes and packets of wild flower seeds. Sow during March and April or in September, depending on soil conditions. On lighter soils, autumn-sown seeds generally germinate and establish quickly, although some will not come up until the following spring.

Prepare your area of choice by starving the soil of nutrients or by selecting an area already deficient in nutrients or disused. You can help to reduce soil fertility by stripping away the top 5-10 cm of soil. Remove weeds and make sure seeds are watered.

To convert a lawn, strip away the top layer of lawn turf using a turfing iron or garden spade. Compost the turf and dig out 10cm of soil below the layer of grass, to reduce the soil fertility and the germination of invasive weed seeds.

We recently enjoyed a spectacular little wild flower patch which a volunteer had planted in the adjacent road, on a verge. 

Wild flowers in a pavement verge in East London, June 2022, sown by a volunteer.

Have you been growing wild flowers?  Do let us know in the comments. 

Sharing this post with: On Mondays We Link Up at Glass of Glam, Top of the World Style at High Latitude Style, Chic & Stylish at Mummabstylish, #SpreadTheKindness  and #Linkup on the Edge at Shelbee on the Edge, #AnythingGoes at My Random Musings, Turning Heads Tuesday at Elegantly Dressed and Stylish,  Style with a Smile  at StylesplashTFF at Doused in Pink, Lizzie in Lace, Confident Twosday at IDoDeclaireRena at Fine Whatever,, #Neverendingstyle at The Grey BrunetteFancy Friday at Nancy's Fashion Style,  Weekday Wear Link-Up at Away from the Blue Sunday Showcase with Chez Mireille and Elegance and Mommyhood  (first Sunday of the month), Talent Sharing Tuesdays at Scribbling Boomer, Link Up Pot Pourri at My Bijou LifeTraffic Jam Weekend at Marsha in the Middle Fabulous Fridays at Lucy Bertoldi

Now it's time for the #WowOnWednesday link-up. Bloggers/Instagrammers can find new readers, plus readers can find new blogs to read. 

Last Week's Favourites

How to Style a Summer Tank 5 Ways by Jill of Doused in Pink

What Does it Mean to Age Gracefully? by Carol at The Scribbling Boomer

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  1. I love wild flowers and we see it more and more here too. We have a plot of grass behind our garden and I'm always telling Gerben that he should weed wild flowers there. He might next year.

  2. Wild flower meadows are a joy! Thanks for sharing this info Gail, I had no idea that the soil needed to be depleted, or that the trend had started from the 2012 Olympics. I’ve been growing some flowers from seed this summer, only time will tell if I started the process too late in the season.
    Mary xxx

  3. What a fun day out! I had no idea the tower of London was well known for wildflowers. I've been there maybe 15 years ago, it was so long ago. I just came back from a hiking camping trip with so many wildflowers. There's just so exceptional in the summertime. Thanks for hosting the link up again this week!

  4. I have left part of my grass uncut and have a few wild flowers in it. So nice to see and great for the wildlife and insects. Thanks for hosting x Jacqui


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