Our beautiful flower meadow is created within the hospice grounds in Rowcroft's arboretum amongst many varieties of trees that grow there.
During the early months of summer it comes alive with bees, butterflies and birdsong, creating a beautifully tranquil place to sit and reflect, made to give people the chance to remember, reflect and look forward whilst enjoying the view of the meadow and its flowers.
We've grown our meadow for the past five years, with the hope that the growth from bare earth to natural beauty, creates a peaceful place for people to not only sit and remember their loved ones, but also look forward.
Choosing the flowers
Many people have certain flowers which have a special meaning for them, and as part of our Meadow of Memories campaign they can dedicate their choice of flower in memory of their loved one, and help their memories live on.
At the start of every Spring, our Estates team will meet with suppliers and discuss how they can improve the seed mix from the previous year. Last year the cornflowers somewhat took over, making the meadow an ocean of pastel blue, another year the red poppies embraced the ground and it became a sea of red. The decision of which flowers to include each year relies heavily on the significance of each flower and how well they grew the previous year.
The seeds we're sowing this year are: Cornflower, Sweet Alyssum, Marigold, Virginia Stock, Californian Poppy, Linum (Flax), African Daisy, Night Scented Stock, Gypsophila 'Covent Garden'.
When and where we sow our meadow
Our meadow is situated in our arboretum, in front of Rainbow House, where our Estates Team keep a close eye on the grounds from the beginning of the year, waiting for the right time to start preparing the meadow. Typically they will start work on the meadow throughout March and April, but the team has to be careful how wet the ground is, as if it's too waterlogged the seeds could rot.
Preparing the ground
Over the course of a month Estates Manager Simon Weal, and Gardening Supervisor Richard Taylor, along with the help of our volunteers, rotavate (or break-up) the earth by turning the soil over, this ensures it is ready for seeding. They will then spray weed killer over the ground to prevent any weeds from growing. This process is repeated three times throughout March, then once more in April before planting the new selection of seeds. This allows the soil to settle and ensures it's in the best state to grow flowers successfully. Simon and Richard will then firm and rake the area creating a bed for the seeds to be sown.
Sowing the seeds
Each year we sow our meadow by hand. Doing this enables us to know we're getting an even coverage, but it's also a lot more personal and everyone that dedicates a flower knows that all of our hard work and efforts go into creating the beautiful meadow seen every year. When the ground is ready, two kilograms of seeds are mixed with sand, making them easier to handle. Richard explains: "Mixing sand into the seed mix helps us to broadcast them evenly, so we know they have been evenly distributed across the ground."
Once all of the seed mix has been broadcast, the ground will then be firmed, which involves pressing the seeds down a little so they don't blow away or get eaten by the surrounding wildlife.
The beauty of growing a meadow is that once you have spent a month or so preparing the ground and sowing the seeds, you can then let nature take its course and do very little.
We do have a rather persistent little badger that tends to revisit our meadow each year, but there's not really a lot we can do to prevent him from returning! So other than pulling out the occasional weed (which can sometimes be quite a challenge if it's in the middle of the meadow!) our Estates team, patients, relatives and staff and volunteers simply watch the meadow turn into a beautiful space that encapsulates peace and tranquillity.