As a partial experiment i am looking to add perennial plants to a orchard / meadow for a client.
Area is around 500 sq meters on a clayish base in good sun and presently contains various smallish trees and fruit trees and a few random wild plants and a massive amount of rough aggressive grasses.
Client does not want a full wild flower meadow due to the work involved and the logistics of removal of top soil.
Therefore partially as i find it interesting have proposed the addition of various perennials that might handle to grass competition and some naturalizing bulbs.
Aim is just to create a more interesting outlook from house that will be low maintenance and lowish cost - Envisage strimming the area from mid Sept through to early April ish with some caution then leaving till following sept. - all debris will be left on ground - so this will remain a fertile soil, although have toyed with the idea of trying to introduce Yellow rattle as some compensation - but key here is low maintenance and do the best one can within constraints.
I have a list ive complied of possible contenders - my question is -- has anyone done this previously and can they advise on whether it might work and if so any tips to improve success -- such as incorrect plants choices, missed plant choices, and the big one -- plugs / 9cm or even 2 litre plants - im concerned the plants need to be strong and large enough to handle themselves from the get go.
Plant contenders :
Meadows cranes bill : Geranium pretense plus varieties -- large sprawlers such as 'Orion' and 'Nimbus' and maybe some advantageous root expanders of reasonable height such as 'Kashmir white '
Knapweed : common, Centauria nigra and greater, Centauria scabiosa
Devils bit scabius / field scabius : Succisa pratensis
Common bistort : Persicaria bistorta
Ox eye daisy : Leucanthemum vulgare
Foxglove common : digitalis
Yarrow : Achillea millefolium
Burnet great : Sanguisorba officinalis
Common valerian : Valerian officinalis
Tulip species / sylvetris / turkistanica
Daffs / tenby / wild
So any pointers ? Any plant need to handle aggressive grass, get to over 60cm tall and have the ability to either increase numbers or at least not decrease quickly
Is autumn better than spring for planting as i intend - or better to get plugs now and try and bulk them up a bit before planting next year
I assumed removing a square foot of grass per plant would give them a chance but can anyone advise and better ideas.
The reason im interested is because if it can work its something i have other clients i can develop it with, lots want some form of naturalist development but none want the work that goes with a true wild flower meadow.