The wildflower patch has taught us a lot in 2016, so for 2017 a lot more attention is being paid to the ground preparations. The dead and dying flowers and underlying grasses have been removed with the strimmer then cut as low as the mower can manage. Then the whole plot, which is 130 square metres, has been raked and cleared of all the thatch and debris that remained.
After marking out the approximate edges of the paths with rope the rotavator has set upon the grass roots and the area is being cleared as far as possible. 50% brown earth is the minimum recommended. The side nearest the Devon bank is easiest - the soil is very light and dry under the tree canopy. So much earth comes out with the roots it is very worthwhile if somewhat tedious to use the rotary sieve to reclaim the soil and rake it back into the ground.
10th October and clearing the patch is finished. The new seeds are on the way. All we need to do is remove the leaves now falling on the patch and sow the seed around the paths, we have ordered extra yellow rattle to keep the grass under control. We hope. So then we await Spring 2017 to see if this gives us a spread of colourful wild flowers that the bees and butterflies can enjoy as well!
22nd April 2017. The grass is growing again from the grass seeds I left behind, there are a few holes from the invasion of the cows when the ground was soft, and the paths are still marked out after a couple of mows. It does look hopeful for more wildflowers though now, several plants that aren’t grass are appearing. Did we sow them or are they self- seeded?
We certainly sowed this, and tried hard by buying extra yellow rattle! It should help to control the grass and give yellow flowers into the bargain.
30th April after the first serious rain for weeks this is our first sighting of a yellow rattle flower. The grass is growing quite well too unfortunately, but the cut paths through the middle allow us to see more closely what is going on in the patch. The badgers have never really bothered with this part thankfully.
Mid June and we have several corncockles flowering. The yellow rattle is mostly past the flowering stage but has left stalks that do indeed rattle when you shake the seed pods. A better show this year from the poppies but so far the ox-eye daisies have been few, far-between and rather small.
The whole patch on 7th July. The dark spots are the seed cases of the yellow rattle, and they do indeed rattle when you shake them. Coming into flower are the birdsfoot trefoil, to be closely followed by the knapweed. But still so much we seeded hasn’t grown. This autumn we will cut everything down again but with the petrol strimmer to keep all the seeds, leaving all the cut material on the ground to dry. Better next year…
It never got near what we expected. This is 5th October and so many of the flower seeds we sowed made no appearance. Plenty of knapweed so the bees and butterflies did have something of interest. We will strim the whole patch again very soon and when the cut grass and anything else left has dried clear the patch and leave it until next year. Perhaps the yellow rattle will control the grass more in 2018.