Garden Design News

Bulb planting in meadows at Mansard House

The soil at Mansard House in Suffolk is far too fertile for the traditional wildflower meadow. Owing to the fact that we are on an alluvial flood plain, which is essentially silty loam, I have managed it as a wildflower meadow and managed to achieve some good diversity. Ragged robin, early purple orchid, and cuckoo flower, to name a few – I didn’t plant them; they just came and liked my management regime: cutting at the end of July, removing the clippings, and repeating twice more.

At first, I didn’t want to meddle too much, but I did sow yellow rattle to weaken the rank grasses. Yellow rattle is semi-parasitic of grasses and really makes a difference and as a result, we have much more species diversity.

Last autumn

Last autumn, I decided to meddle some more and planted several hundred bulbs to further embellish the meadow. I thought that if the greatest 19th-century gardener, William Robinson, could do it in his garden at Gravetye Manor, so could I.

The season began with two Narcissus: February Gold (despite its name, it flowers in March) and an old favourite, Seagull. Loving our moist soil, Leucojum “Gravetye Giant” followed next at the end of April, lasting quite well into May. Though our new rescue lurcher, Neville, did like to chew the heads off, hopefully they will proliferate in years to come. But perhaps the most successful has been Camassia.

I planted both C. leichtlinii and C. quamash which pretty much flower at the same time and look great together. The latter being smaller but a more intense blue. They look particularly spectacular backlight in the evening or at sunrise. When the sun is overhead, blue can look a little washed out. They, too, should love the soil and will also multiply.

Next up will be the wildflowers to enjoy!


bulb planting in meadows at Mansard House in Suffolk