GARDENS are one of many landscapes I observe. Next week I set off on a narrow boat on the Llangollen canal, escaping roads and large numbers of people. We’ll moor in some isolated location and look around us.

In this country all land is managed and it’s the techniques employed; mechanical, human physical labour or grazing animals that catch my attention. Perhaps the most critical intervention is timing. If we could only organise the same cutting regime on canal paths and roadsides every year then a much richer ecosystem would evolve.

Here at the garden we have several wildflower areas and have adapted our techniques to mirror what happens in a traditional meadow. We sowed the seed in September, traditionally the same time animals had a final graze before being overwintered in sheds. During the final grazing the annual seed, fallen from the gathered hay was trampled into the soil.

Some of the more regular readers may remember George, on work placement from Ryedale School, preparing and sowing the site. Our reward has been a greater variety of wildflowers, particularly the return of poppies in some number. Other wildflower seed used include corn cockle, corn marigold and cornflower. To these we have added a mix of wildflower seed donated to us by Ryedale Folk Museum and again we have been rewarded with additional wildflowers of corn buttercup and shepherd’s needle. The results have been stunning and we’ll repeat this new technique and timing next year.

On being asked to comment on the planting plan for a large-scale housing development being built on agricultural land outside Sowerby, my response was not what the recipient expected. Taking aside the actual time to complete the development, the end result of the creation of garden’s and public spaces will be a richer eco-system than that of the three large monocrop fields it is replacing and will support more insects and birds.

The developer has outlined the installation of wildflower meadows and for the first year they will be spectacular. However, in subsequent years success will depend upon the management regime. The amount of work required to create wildflower meadows such as we have here is as time consuming as a traditional flower bed. Without that understanding and resources it is more likely to become another piece of amenity grass.

So if you have responsibility for any areas of grassland, you will have an enormous impact on the variety and biodiversity of the area if you cut at about same time every year.

Around September, look at the area and identify a particular plant such as meadowsweet or cranesbill and cut when it has set seed. In subsequent years don’t be ruled by the calendar but again observe the chosen plant and cut once it has set seed.

In our grass area our signature plant is yellow rattle and we cut to allow access to the apple trees. Observation and understanding can be more informative than books. I wonder what new information I will glean from the Llangollen canal.