Less Grass – more wildflowers. We want to encourage a variety of wild flowers but, as will have been noticed, we have an abundance of grasses. We understand this is due to the fact that fertile top soil was used to create the meadow, whereas wildflowers prefer a more impoverished soil. To reduce the impact of the grasses we have been advised that yellow rattle is a very useful wildflower.
We recently cleared two small patches and removed large dock plants to make space for the yellow rattle. The ground was very hard and difficult to break down, but we managed to plant most of the 150 plug plants.
We await the outcome !
About Yellow Rattle. This pretty little annual sends out roots that grow into the roots of neighbouring grass plants, and steal nutrients (that is, food) from them. It will produce many tiny seeds that rattle around in the papery brown calyx – hence the common name – and it can spread itself year by year, weakening the grasses that it grows among! But you can get rid of it easily: just cut the flowers before they can produce seed, and the yellow rattle will disappear from your meadow. But if you like variety in your field, keep the rattle; it will weaken the grass, giving other species more chance to survive. Of course we still want some grasses !