Dry meadows

Dry meadows (Table 6.1) occur in response to either low rainfall during the spring to summer period or dry infertile soil types, often, but not always, derived from limestone. As a result, these meadows are dominated by predominantly small, slow growing, stress – tolerating species. The peak flowering season is generally early spring to midsummer, but earlier in southern European sites. When used as a vegetation in designed landscapes in higher rainfall climates, many of the constituent species are prone to displacement by larger growing species, especially on fertile soil. Many dry meadow species are highly intolerant of shade cast by taller plants. The use of highly infertile materials, such as crushed building rubble and sand, as soils for these communities will, however, improve persistence and ease of management. When established on these types of soils, cutting in summer as an aid to persistence is generally not required, as the competitive capacity of invading species is reduced by soil infertility and moisture stress. Because of the slow growth of many species, communities established by planting may take one to two years before they look attractive. This timescale will generally be longer for sown communities