Sunday, 13 April 2014

orchard meadow

We hope that we will be able to create up to 2 acres of beautiful wild flower meadows here at Cordwood.

plantain and cowslips
When we arrived, our 'orchard' was a 28 foot high jungle of suckering cherries, blackthorn, sycamores, nettles and strangling brambles. Having cleared that lot with hand tools, we began the process of creating a wildflower meadow beneath the venerable recovered apple trees. From bare soil, grass appeared and I took a hay cut in late summer 2012.  The building of our new homes in 2013 took our attention away from the orchard flower meadow and I didn't mow the grass at the season's end or remove the hay.

Will anything struggle through the thatch of aggressive Yorkshire Fog grass this year? 

greater knapweed
Delighted, first of all to see some of the seedling hay rattle  plants coming through in patches. This parasite was introduced in 2012 from seed we had collected with Mike. It sucks the life out of the over-competitive grasses, leaving space for less vigorous meadow flowers.

We planted cowslip plugs and scattered a bag of seed collected from our old allotment in 2013. In April 2014 plugs are flowering and seedlings are fighting their way through.

I collected red campion seed in 2012 and successfully grew lots of plugs. I've transplanted plants into the orchard this year.

We also collected greater knapweed seed during our evening walks and transplanted plants and scattered seed. Somethings happenin'.

And finally, the American quamash or camassia was introduced as bulblets in spring 2013. They seemed to have disappeared and I cursed our vole neighbours and their sharp hungry teeth. But the camassias are back and stronger than ever!
red campion

Unfortunately our spring flowering crocus flowers were eaten by the wood pigeons...

I've scattered lots of other seed but it's too soon to crow. But, from nothing, we have now got the beginnings of some floral diversity.

Much more to be done. Of course and I'll be collecting seed and growing plug plants to enrich the meadow during this year. Also looking to find ways of increasing the invertebrate population.

And, then,
in high summer, Mike and hope to be using our Austrian scythes to clear the hay. Scythe training. A load of laughs. Sunny day, gentle exercise. Frothing ale or refreshing cider. It's yours for the asking......


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