This year, for the first time in a while, the Snake’s Head Fritillaries in the meadow bit of our garden have managed to open before being consumed. I am not sure what eats them, I put it down to the muntjac usually, because I have seen it nibbling in the area and the flower buds are always neatly and completely removed. Poor things never get a chance to multiply, but what surprises me slightly more is that they come back each year anyway. That is more than can be said of the gladioli byzantinus or camassia leichtlinii that I add from time to time in the hopes of echoing Great Dixter’s Topiary Lawn.
This year I’ve added a few wild daffodils (Narcissus pseudonarcissus) and I am hoping that they will like the spot and will spread. Everywhere would be good.
The meadow zone is just an area of grass that I don’t mow (and I am always looking for excuses to get rid of a bit more lawn). It isn’t that big, about nine by seven paces. My favourite thing about managing the area is cutting the paths through it. There is something very attractive about mown paths. Unfortunately, over time they have evolved from slighly meandering curves to more or less straight lines. I blame the heavy lawn mower!
I cut the whole area once a year, in September and leave the wilting plants to drop their seeds for a few days. Then I rake the whole mess up and compost it.
To help suppress the more vigorous grasses and establish a more diverse wildflower meadow I sowed yellow rattle (Rhinanthus minor) about five years ago. This seemed to work for a couple of years, but I am now seeing fewer and fewer yellow rattle plants return. I might have to re-do the process.
Meanwhile, I am just enjoying seeing those wonderful chequered bells hanging above the fresh green grass.
The cowslips are just starting to light up the area too and are attracting a good number of insects. Sadly, I’ve no idea what this fine fellow is.
I wondered about a tour of the area at ground level, but within seconds my jeans were soaked through, so I abandoned that idea. Maybe in the summer, following the meadow brown butterflies. However, I thought that it was worth getting an insect’s view of a snake’s head fritillary, looking into it’s jaws:
It is an impressive view, but not especially snake-like.
And once again I couldn’t help thinking what a fantastic parasol this would make, so I have taken liberties with another famous painting to demonstrate: