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The Tortoise and The Hare

Talk about tortoise and hare. We trashed the soil so badly around our new build when sloshing around in last year's mud that it's having to undergo comprehensive restorative work. We're on heavy, heavy clay here, so we covered the back garden area with what topsoil we had then sowed a green compost of phacelia and lupins. It has been amazing to see the relative progress of the phacelia and lupins and our wildflower meadow areas. We sowed them at pretty much the same time, but their growth rates have been almost bizarrely different. Wildflower meadow - early daysConditions this spring were terrible for sowing, and many of the annuals I included in some of the meadow areas are still the size of a 10p piece when they should be thinking about flowering. The scentless Mayweed seems to be doing fine, which is mostly what the green is in this photo. The perennials are still tiny, although if I look hard I can see Birdsfoot Trefoil, Clover and Campion, among others. It's partly because they're growing in subsoil, which is great news in the long run as it will keep bullies like nettle and dock at arms length, and help to stop grasses dominating. The wildflowers on our roof are growing even slower, as they have to cope with even more stressed conditions. It's also because perennial wildflowers do take time to get going - and need TLC over that period. Folk often complain that seed hasn't germinated, whereas actually it has - it's just the seedlings are too small for them to spot and identify. Phacelia and Curly Coat RetrieverThe comparison between them and the phacelia / lupin mix couldn't be more extreme. The whole idea of green manure is to use fast growing species, of course, and they're not disappointing. You can almost hear them growing. Basil reckons they're up to a foot tall. The lupins will help break down the clay too, while the phacelia will provide an attractive bonanza for pollinators when it flowers - which will start any day now.