Friday, 25 April 2014

wildflower meadow

Trev in action ...
An exciting new chapter opened at Cordwood over the Easter weekend: we began preparations for our wildflower meadow. Our plan is for there to be 2 acres of wildflower meadow stretching in a crescent around our two gardens.

To be honest, I didn't even have the creation of the wildflower meadow on my list. The job was sooo big and my list was already tooo long. But I spotted that Roger had hired a mini-tractor. It looked too much fun to miss so I hired a cultivator attachment. And the project that will be 'my baby' for my remaining years began.

And we were away. Like an agricultural labourer at the beginning of the industrial revolution, I am always amazed by how much work machines can eat up. This little tiger of a tractor and its rotavator pal did work in a day that would quite literally have taken me about half a year of back-breaking work to accomplish.

Compacted, impenetrable ground became a tilth. The substrate that had remained from where the old service road once laid, was no longer rock, but a soft seedbed.

We've got a fair old mix of soil types and aspects around the area that will become the meadow. We have the crushed concrete remaining from the removal of the old mushroom shed bases that will favour lime loving plants. We have the ground beneath the old pine trees giving acidic conditions. Then we have our own sandy soil, the sandy soil brought in from Kirkby and clay soil from Brackenhurst college. Plus partial shade through to full sun. And we hope that the diversity and impoverished nature of the soil will help us produce a diverse and rich flora over the coming years.

We don't have the budget to sow the entire area with purchased seed and so must nibble away at the job.

We'll sow what seed we have in a couple of small areas and see what comes up. So into a sack of wildflower seed go a whole lot of seeds we've collected or acquired: calendular, Welsh poppies, Aldi wildflower mix, white campion, little packets of 'mini-meadow' mix and many other assorted envelopes. We'll also watch with interest to see the wildflowers that emerge whose seeds have lain dormant in the soil until we cultivated it.

I'll continue to hunt waste ground and roadside verges for wildflower seeds.

We'll sow trays of seed and bring seedlings on to be planted out as plug plants.
the old service road, sown with seed

I hope to collect hay from other wildflower meadows and bring it back to Cordwood to shed its seed.

And we'll continue to welcome gifts of wild plants from friends gardens.

Let's not pretend that the creation of a wildflower meadow will be quick or easy. Or ever end.

But picture it. On a sunny summers day. Buzzing with insects and vibrant with colour.....

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