Wild Places, Wild Flowers – Summer

The most noticeable scent in the Priory gardens at the moment is not the roses; neither is it lilies; nor the strong wafts from summer flowering honeysuckle.   No – the pervasive nose-tease is this:

Measdowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria).*  Because I’m leaving more and more of the garden margins unstrimmed, the number of wild flowers is increasing year on year.  For example, the main drainage ditch (which links the two ponds) is full of wild flowers and, especially, the …

… light, airy flower-heads of meadowsweet.

If you see it growing somewhere, do walk over, bend down and breathe deeply.  You won’t regret it.

I like the ‘stream’ it  forms between the gardens and the meadow.  In a few weeks, when it has finished its summer show, all this will be strimmed.

The meadow itself has been a disappointment this year.  All that flipping rain has allowed the grass to romp away and swamp the wild-flowers.   I’ve noticed this in other gardens too; the wild-flower meadow at Charleston Manor was the same.

Still.  There are more insects in the meadow than anywhere else in the garden.

And even without lots of flower, the meadow is still a special place to walk and look and think; especially in the early morning when the grass is heavy with dew.

The pond banks are also unstrimmed and it is amazing how wild flowers just pop up.  Where from?  Here is a patch of common mallow (Malva sylvestris) while …

… up by the greenhouse is a singular Musk mallow (Malva moschata).

Arguably the prettiest ‘weed’ is this.  Do you know it?  Of course you do:  Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum).  It spreads itself freely about but is easily pulled out.  I once watched a pair of bull-finches feeding on its seed and for that chance reason alone, it is worth having.  Or so I think.

Having identified Herb Robert so effortlessly, how about this one?  Any idea?  I have to say I didn’t know.  The answer is ….. water mint (Mentha aquatica).  It too grows in the main ditch and again I don’t remember seeing it before.

Here’s one last wild-flower for you to name.  Once again, I had to look it up as it isn’t something I’ve seen before; growing as it is on a bank that normally I would have cut by now.  Yes!  That’s right.  Well done, indeed.  It is betony (Stachys officinalis) and we have a …

… a single white one too.  Bonus points to me.

Dotted about the grounds are patches of unmown grass.  These are areas that I have left uncut to allow for the die-back of daffodils.  Thing is, the daffs are long gone but self-heal and birds-foot trefoil and others continue to flower.  Can’t quite bring myself to strim them while they harbour so many flowers – and so many insects.  But soon these Mini-me meadows will be consigned to the compost bin.  Indeed, in a few short weeks we will be mowing the main meadow; an event that, for me, marks an end to summer.  Even though summer only just got here.

Didn’t it?

*  Actually that is a bald-faced lie.  The over-powering smell in the gardens at the moment isn’t any flower.  The over-powering smell in the gardens is the stench of a rotting deer carcass.  Nice, huh?  The poor, young thing fell though the cap of a disused well.  Unable to get out, it drowned.  As much as I hate deer coming into the garden, I wouldn’t wish such a dismal end on any creature.  I’ve covered the well (temporarily) and that has helped reduce the awful stink.  I’ll have it properly capped soon.  An unpleasant story – which is why I lied and stuck with the tale of the strongest perfume being that of meadowsweet instead.  I guess you understand why.

28 thoughts on “Wild Places, Wild Flowers – Summer

  1. Oh gosh, David, your Meadowsweet is beautiful. Your summers are so gentle compared to what we have here, where the ground is torched. You can do things we simply can’t do here. Your summer is more like our spring, minus several thousand specimens.Though I like our spareness, I have to say, however, I lust after your profuseness.


    • Hi Faisal, this year’s summer has been far more green than usual due to lots more rain. Often by now the lawns are yellow and the need to mow them all but stopped. So it is more lush-looking than usual and I guess compared to Oz doubly so. D


  2. Shame about the deer, but I’m sure there are many others as I know they are becoming a pest in many places. I admit that I can’t stand the perfume of herb Robert, that smells like something rotting to me! Christina


    • The deer are a problem, Christina and I’m trying to arrange to have some culled when the season starts soon. They are now regular visitors to the Priory and do much damage. I’ve never found the smell of Herb Robert particularly noticeable to be honest. Funny how some things affect some of us and not others. D


  3. I have never really come across meadowsweet except by the side of the canal – I did have some by the wildlife pond in my garden but it got carried away and had to go. The only things that seem to grow happily in our field are thistles and nettles.


    • There are thistles and nettles in the meadow too, Elaine but thankfully not too many of either. But it is dock that I keep a close eye on and try and pull out before it seeds. When the ground is very wet the latter’s long roots come out easily and very satisfyingly. D


  4. Hello Dave, I was just about to write a post describing my worst weeds – and I think meadowsweet will be among them! Not because I don’t love the flowers, but because it becomes rampant in my bog garden, and its growth habit (rapidly spreading shallow rooted rhizomes) stifles anything else (such as iris siberica). Surprised you didn’t know it before! Herb Robert I can also do without – gets everywhere, and I dont like the smell.


    • Hi Mr K. Ah, well yes. I can see that meadowsweet would take over a bog garden and that you would regard it as a pest. And perhaps I did wax a tad lyrical about Herb Robert – though it isn’t much of a problem at the Priory, it was pretty rampant in my old garden. The smell though? I have never really noticed it to be honest – though obviously Christina has. D


  5. Your meadows are really stunning, even the grasses look beautiful. You’re right about the perfume from meadowsweet, Some of the lanes here are lined with it and it is a pleasure to walk through them.


    • I’ve always been interested in, and have wanted to learn the names of, wild-flowers, Pauline. So I was surprised not to know meadowsweet when it started to grow at the Priory. And yes, the scent is gorgeous. D


  6. Lovely David (not the deer of course, but the flower and the meadow…)! I know you said you’re disappointed with the meadow this year but I still think it looks good. To have all that space, I think a wildflower meadow is a must!


  7. Gorgeous meadows. So much nicer to just mow paths and leave the margins for wild flowers. Betony is so orchid like.

    Poor deer and poor you, it can’t have been a pleasant experience to come across it. We found a deer snagged on a barbed wire fence a couple of years ago. It had died and was slowly decomposing. We were on a walk and the deer just happened to be on a really narrow stretch on the path. It was too grisly a sight for me to walk past so we ended up having to do quite a long detour to avoid it. I know we’ve got lots of deer in the UK but it’s still a sad sight to see. Hopefully the beauty of your meadows can take your mind off it.


    • Hi WW, I had to go and investigate the smell and wasn’t too sure what I’d find. And yep, it was pretty grim – I can sympathise with your walk dilemma. I’m just hoping that the smell will go soon – luckily it is confined to the southern end of the gardens. D


  8. Hi,

    Beautiful to see so; and I can well believe it’s a magical place just to sit and watch.

    I’ve had Herb Robert take over one border this year, but as you said it is easy to pull out – and very brittle! I pulled some of it back because it was swamping other Geraniums and I hadn’t anticipated it to grow so large. I wonder if mine arrived in the garden thanks to Bullfinches… I have them fairly regularly to my feeders and Herb appeared under the tree where many birds like to perch before flying to the feeding station.


    • Hi Liz, I allowed Herb Robert to grow rampantly in a border beneath a hedge one year in my own garden and actually, it looked amazing en masse. It was there that I sat from about ten feet away and watched a pair of bullfinches feed. D


  9. Poor deer 😦 what a horrible way to go.

    But on the bright side you have some lovey meadows and wildflowers! Do you just mow it annually or do you do the whole re-seeding bit? I’d love to persuade the boss to set aside a chunk as wildflower space but the time involved in re-seeding is a big ask, and our soil is too wonderfully fertile.


    • Hi Libby, no – I wouldn’t have enough time to reseed the meadow either. I have just let it grow these past three years and then in September we have it mown and all the cuttings removed. I then continue to mow it until the first frosts. I’m hoping that by so doing I’ll reduce its fertility – in time. Not convinced it has had any impact yet. But flowers are slowly colonising it which is smashing. D


  10. It’s so interesting comparing the wild flowers you see and the ones I see. I have never smelt the perfume that comes from having masses of blossom of Meadow Sweet. I have only seen the odd plant and missed the best part, the perfume. At least the wet weather has been good for your Meadow Sweet. I will have to go further afield to less dry areas to find it. In France the common names include Queen of the Meadows, the Bee Herb, Oak Beard, Beauty of the Meadows. Maybe I could sneak a few plants into the borders that I water.


  11. will you get the carcass out or just leave it????
    I do like meadows as they do have a special feel about them even when they arent full of flowers.


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