Creating an urban meadow

Urban wildflower meadow
The scythe is a powerful tool, capable of transforming our lives and surroundings.

Just across from where I live there is a patch of council owned land. Last year I noticed that it hadn’t been cut, no doubt due to budget cuts so in the August I went over with my scythe to cut off the docks before they had chance to set their seeds.

urban wildflower meadow

Of course, once I was there I couldn’t help mowing an area properly. The sward was tangled and tough so it took a couple of evenings after work to cut a small area and remove the grass. One of the advantages of the scythe is that it works silently, so the nearby houses weren’t disturbed while I mowed. Six weeks later I mowed the regrowth to leave a short sward, dug out the docks and sowed wild yellow rattle seed in the spaces. Yellow rattle is semi-parasitic on grass so will reduce its vigour, allowing wild flowers to thrive.

My hope was that, over time I would reduce the fertility of the land by repeated mowing and introduce some wild flowers to create a mini urban meadow, inspired by the guerrilla gardening movement. The photos show what happened; the soil already had a seedbank of wildflowers and the short cut provided the right conditions for these Lady’s Smock to germinate creating a gorgeous pink haze across the area.

urban wildflower meadow
This last photo shows clearly how things have changed, the line between where I scythed and didn’t is obvious. My yellow rattle seed has also germinated so and I can’t wait to see what else will appear as the summer continues.

Book a place on one of my Learn to Scythe courses and start transforming your environment.

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About Steve Tomlin

I am a greenwood worker and scythe tutor. I carve spoons, bowls and other products from locally sourced greenwood. During the summer I teach scything around the UK.
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3 Responses to Creating an urban meadow

  1. Robert E Thomas says:

    Great result Steve. Love Lady’s Smock in a summer salad. Bodgerx

  2. Hey Steve
    Great post! I had a similar experience last summer, mowing a patch of meadow that had been brushhogged in September for years on end. After mowing it several times, I had successfully knocked back the substantial thistle and dock population and noticed a marked increase in diversity and flowers. It also became much easier to cut. Because the grass was removed, all the species that don’t like to be smothered were much happier.

    • Steve Tomlin says:

      Exactly, it’s actually a simple thing to do with the key being timing of the cut and removing the grass to avoid mulching and reduce fertility. Well done, I’m glad others are at it too.

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