Dactylorhiza fuchsii

Orchid Meadow hardy orchids nursery grown from seed



Orchids in your meadow or lawn ..... Create a meadow ..... How to do it ..... My meadows

Wildflower meadows are special places for plant lovers and the natural habitat for many orchids. A meadow makes a great setting for orchids - Orchids add the finishing touch to any meadow.my garden meadownatural downland meadow







On the left, a natural meadow. On the right a manufactured meadow, in my garden. Not as good as the real thing, but not bad! All the photos below are from my meadows.

Anacamptis pyramidalisOrchids in your meadow or lawn

If you have a meadow you may already have orchids growing naturally in it. Also, hidden orchids can sometimes flower miraculously on untreated lawns on poor soil, if only the mower is kept in the shed between March and July.

If you don't have any orchids why not plant some? Provided the soil is poor enough for a good range of wildflowers, then orchids may well feel at home. If you do have some orchids naturally, why not plant some more species?

Whether the conditions are dry or damp, the grass short or long, and the soil alkaline, neutral, or slightly acid, there will be a number of species that are suitable. With good meadow management the orchids may become well established and increase by self seeding.

Anacamptis pyramidalis

Never take orchids from the wild, of course!

It is illegal under the Wildlife and Countryside Acts 1981 to uproot, destroy or pick orchids, and could result in a heavy fine. Why? - because such behaviour is very harmful to the natural populations, spoils the enjoyment of wild orchids for others, and there is a strong chance of killing the plant in the process.

garden meadowCreate a meadow

If you don't have a meadow yet, then it is not hard to create one, even in a very small area. All it needs is a bit of effort at the outset and some patience. A good outcome can be achieved in less than one year!

Gatekeeper butterfly



Garden meadow

Meadow areas are very good for biodiversity. Rich in plant species, they attract beetles, butterflies, bees and many other insects, also birds, and small mammals.

Gatekeeper butterfly


If you have a pond nearby you will also attract frogs, toads and newts. By making a wild area, you will be making a valuable contribution towards nature conservation in your locality.


Lesser KnapweedHow to do it

Choose an area which is sunny more than half the day and is not prone to flooding after heavy rain. A lawn area could be left uncut for a season to see if it is naturally flowery. Otherwise remove existing vegetation including all the roots. Meadow flowers thrive only on poor soil - if necessary, reduce the fertility. The quickest way is to remove 20cm of top soil and replace it with poor soil / grit / sand / rubble / chalk / leaf mould - anything suitable with low nutrients.

Dactylorhiza fuchsii and oxeye daisy

Lesser Knapweed

Buy a wildflower meadow seed mix suitable for your soil that includes appropriate grass species. They are obtainable from reputable internet suppliers. Sow it in early autumn (best) or spring. Use about 4g seed per square metre, and tread it into the soil surface.


Dactylorhiza fuchsii and Oxeye Daisy


In the first spring / summer cut back the growth two or three times to about 5 to 10cm height to stop the more vigorous new plants dominating. Always remove all cuttings to continue reducing fertility.
Thereafter, cut just once per year at the end of August to 5cm, and again if any re-growth occurs in autumn.

Cowslipyellow rattle and orange hawkweed


Yellow Rattle and Orange Hawkweed

Yellow rattle (Rhinanthus minor) seed sown in autumn is valuable as it reduces grass vigour by parasitising their roots. Introduce a greater variety of wildflowers by growing them from seed in pots and planting out as seedlings. Finally, add the orchids, stand back, and admire!

For more detail on meadow making, go to Links.


garden meadowMy meadows

I started a mini-meadow in my lawn in autumn 2005 by removing turf and top soil. Within the first three years, and with some selective encouragement, over 38 species of wildflowers have bloomed amongst numerous kinds of meadow grass. This shows what can be achieved in a short time. What's more, you don't need to have a large area at your disposal. My meadow is tiny - about 4 x 3 metres only!

I bought some orchids from reputable suppliers and planted them in Spring 2006. They are flowering regularly, and I am waiting to see if they are self seeding. Cutting the meadow in late August gives time for orchid flowers to ripen and shed their seed.
In Autumn 2009 I introduced many more orchids, grown by me from seed.

School meadow beforeSchool meadow after






School meadow before
School meadow after

Some friends and I also created a meadow at my daughter's primary school, in the area surrounding a pond. On the left is how it looked in Summer 2006 before the makeover and on the right in Summer 2008.