Inspired by meadows at Sissinghurst Castle Garden

A view of the tower from the orchard meadow

Meadows have been a key part of our work over the last three years, in maintaining and increasing our wildflower spaces the garden team have worked hard to upkeep these vibrant spaces, which allow a wide variety of flora and fauna to thrive.

Meadow Maintenance 

Over the last three years we have transformed huge areas of our grasslands into floral carpets and improved many of our established meadows, one of the reasons we do this is to improve the bio-diversity. This is crucially important because over the past 60 years Britain has lost over 97% of its floral meadows and within that only 1% is maintained correctly. The knock on effect is a huge reduction in our wildlife populations. 31% of wildlife populations have reduced by half over 50 years with butterflies, bees and moths bearing the brunt of the damage. These are the creatures that pollinate our food and are required for us to survive.
It’s not only fauna that’s struggling as a result but also the plants themselves, 1 in 5 is now under threat from disappearing. To help play our part and educate as many visitors as we can, we’re holding a celebration of meadows this July which starts off on ‘National Meadow Day’ which is Saturday 2 July and runs until Friday 29 July. 

The orchard meadow

The orchard is a large meadow containing old Kentish fruit trees. In summer it has tall grasses and creates the restful atmosphere of an English meadow. It is one of our most prominent meadows on the property and the cuckoo flower has begun to bloom along with the buttercup and dandelion, but in years past it has never been one for high flora diversity.

A Cuckoo flower in the orchard Meadow
A Cuckoo flower in the orchard Meadow
A Cuckoo flower in the orchard Meadow

Vita's Meadow at Sissinghurst Castle Garden

Take a look to see how we're restoring wild flowers in our meadows. Using the traditional art of scything our garden team are restoring the meadows to their former glory during Vita's time here.

 A project to improve the diversity of the orchard began over three years ago and from it we have seen new species flowering each year, from Orchids to Knapweed.

The major reason for this success was a change of management, taking special care to remove all mown material to stop nutrients returning to the soil.  From now on, each year the nutrients will deplete from the clay and we will see a steady fall in the lush grasses. This is important because if fertility is high then thuggish plants like docks, nettles and some grasses will dominate an area stopping the more delicate wild flowers from growing.

Pheasant Eyes in the orchard meadow
Pheasant Eyes in the orchard meadow
Pheasant Eyes in the orchard meadow

Last year we worked with the Kent Wildlife Trust and they gave us enough green hay from one of the local meadows called Marden. This is one of the most ecological ways to improve a meadow because the travel miles are so few and the seeds have already acclimatised to a familiar soil. We harrowed the orchard for the first time and strew the fresh hay over the field. One plant we particularly wanted was yellow rattle, this hemi-parasitic plant will feed on neighbouring grasses and hinder the growth and already we have seen a huge amount germinate. All that is left for the orchard now is to let it grow, flower and enjoy the flowers and wildlife. To then be scythed in late summer and the hay used to re-populate other grasslands on the property.

To help celebrate National Meadow day on Saturday 2 July, our resident meadow expert Josh will be leading three short tours of our wildflower meadows. Taking place at 12, 1 and 2pm. So come along this Saturday and meet Josh by the Oast house to find out about the work that goes into upkeeping these vibrant spaces. 

Click on the links below to find out more about our meadow month events this July.