Pictorial Mix

What’s in a name? The debate continues surrounding headline grabbing ‘Pictorial Meadows’, the invention of Nigel Dunnett professor of planting design in the landscape department of Sheffield University. It’s an adaptation of a cornfield full of annual “weeds”, without the corn and produces a stunningly beautiful display of annual flowers. The issue is with the name, as they aren’t actually meadow flowers, so people are getting confused as to what are Wildflower Meadows and what are Pictorial Meadows. Wildflower Meadows are grasslands comprising native grasses and flowers, mostly perennial, which are grazed or mown for hay and have almost completely disappeared from the UK. Our Director of Conservation, Miles, has had several very interesting and lively debates on the subject, which can be seen here on his Blog.

The reality is (I’ll call them ‘Pictorial Mix’ from now) these seed mixes are suited to small urban gardens where establishing a perennial Wildflower Meadow is just not an option. In my own garden, I’ve sown a ‘Pictorial Pastel Mix’ in my modest 2m2 raised vegetable beds, which my daughter insists looks like a giant cat litter tray. To be honest judging by the number of cats I’ve chased off, she may be right. Anyway, my ‘Pictorial Mix’ contains Gypsophila, Bishop’s flower, Cornflowers & Corn poppies. Not a Wildflower Meadow, but a very pretty show of annual flowers – I hope! I have to admit I’m very concerned that I’ll get any flowers at all, based on the amount of rain we’ve had recently and the fact that my giant cat litter tray is now starting to look more like a Jacuzzi!

Anyway, if my little seedlings can learn to swim & survive, then I’ll be really excited to see what my ‘Pictorial Mix’ delivers and if I see a significant increase in honey bees and pollinating insects visiting my garden. Green fingers crossed!

Jenny Marsden, Finance Manager


About grasslandstrust

The Grasslands Trust is the only national UK charity that focuses entirely on saving grasslands that are valuable because they are rich in wildlife, history, or for other reasons.
This entry was posted in Jenny Marsden, meadow creation, pictorial meadows, wildife gardening and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Pictorial Mix

  1. Steve Alton says:

    I would take issue with two points here:
    1) it is quite possible to create a ‘meadow’ – vegetation comprising native meadow perennials – in even the smallest garden; I have a meadow in a wheelbarrow, complete with yellow rattle.
    2) ‘Pictorial’ mixes are suitable for far more situations than just small back gardens; they can be used in any urban location where recreating a native vegetation type is either unnecessary or inappropriate. The important thing is, as you say, not to call them ‘meadows’.

    I appreciate that you are the ‘Grasslands’ Trust, but let’s try and be a bit open-minded about this.

  2. Flo Fflach says:

    I saw pictures last year or before [time slips] that were doing the rounds of a wild flower meadow planted in UK. everyone was wowing it – it was just like a big flower garden and not all wild flowers from UK. It covered a large area and people seemed to have romantic notions that this was what meadows should look like, and they wanted to wander about in them. I don’t like seeing them in rural places, not just a visual thing, putting garden flowers [non native] into farmland always seems a bit off to me, but then I really like our wild plants…. but then fields of monoculture rye grass not that good either. Like these meadows in Kent http://www.flickr.com/photos/incrediblehow/sets/72157600881080725/with/843704737/

    But Steve Alton: I can see these mixes could be used in urban areas but why not use bristish flora? It depends what is wanted, needed. You can have more than “pictorial” mixes and have bee mixes. It does seem to be the case that people/organisations think they are helping biodiversity and the recreation of meadows when they are not. A lot of confusion. So I would say that the Grassland Trust are not really being negative about it but trying to make some clarity. Keep the dialogue going!
    Glad to hear you have yellow rattle in your wheel barrow meadow, a wonderful plant. Leaves showing all over our fields now.

  3. jennymarsdengrasslands says:

    Thanks Steve and Flo, The Grasslands Trust is just highlighting the fact that the name is misleading to a lot of people that’s all.

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