Sunday, 26 June 2011

a wildflower meadow?

Reading widely at the moment around landscaping. Have both finished 'Making Wildflower Meadows' by Pam Lewis and Jill has put lots of notes in our notebook.

I have already described the rough grassland that lies between the woodland and the area set aside for gardens that runs down the western side of the site. Here, couch grass and other dominant grasses compete to produce seed heads that reach a height of five feet.

Our vision is for this to become a vibrant wildflower meadow but this is not easy to achieve.

The eco survey done of the site disappointingly indicates that there are no plants or animals of interest! The area has been used to dump spent mushroom compost so that only coarse grasses, nettles and brambles can thrive.

Wildlower meadows thrive on poor, low nutrient soils. They are very important to a wide range of invertebrates and have declined massively in recent years.

So, the plan we are working on is for the entire area of coarse grassland and top four inches of soil to be scraped away when groundworks begin. This can be used as top soil when the vegetation has broken down within it, creating a reasonable loam.

The area left can then have some of the excavated sand taken from where the bungalows will be built and then some of the crushed concrete and bricks from the former mushroom shed can be added. This must then be rolled before a specific sandy soil wild grassland mix is sown.

It does seem counter-intuitive to create such poor conditions. Our most beautiful widlflowers and finest grasses are very easily swamped by  more aggressive plants that thrive on high fertility. It is therefore necessary to reduce fertility so that the more special species can thrive.

A boundary of around two metres wide will be left as a 'beetle bank' next to the woodland so that insect populations can overwinter and hopefully recolonise the new meadow as it develops.

Over coming years, extra seed will be sown into the meadow area and plug plants and bulbs incorporated to increase the diversity of the flora.

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