Mini Wildflower Meadow

Me, Marcus, Kerrie and Ruby made it today.

We have got the meadow seed mix and it was nice to split the session into ripping out bramble roots and seeding the area.

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The seeds are from a farm in Alcester, Warwickshire, so you cannot get much nearer than that. It is nice of them to supply a postcard that gives is an idea of what we will look like next summer.

The slog of pulling roots out is almost over.

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There are a few bits left to grub out, but not a huge amount. We seeded the areas that we have cleared and hopefully it will make a huge difference next year.

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The area where the newly planted trees are, presents us with a new challenge. There are an awful lot of plants growing and  it seems a shame to start ripping through this. I think Marcus and myself felt that it was better left, and just clear any scrub that encroaches.

I think we have just two more workdays before Christmas. It would be good to get this area done and dusted before the end of the year.

Thanks all who made it today.

Paul

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Mini Wildflower Meadow

Today I got there on time!! A miracle, some might say.. lol

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I thought it might be worth adding the back story to what we are doing. I ran the idea of removing scrub and replacing it with a wildflower meadow mix, past the Sustrans’ ecologist last year (Sustrans are the land owners). Sustrans thought it was a great idea to be planting wildflower seeds and worked out a management plan for the work that we are now doing. The seed mix has UK provenance and is from a reputable seller called Habitat Aid. So if anyone is wondering why the area looks like a bomb site, I assure you that it is work in progress and in accordance with the management plan given to us by Sustrans.

Mick, Marcus and myself turned up for another gruelling morning.

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This bare ground represents three man-hours of work. It is really slow and hard work.

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If we do not get the bramble roots out it will simply be brambles again next year.

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The last bit to do is around the bench and then the section with the trees that we planted last autumn, and rediscovered when we rolled back the scrub. And this shows how vigorous and smothering the scrub is, if it is left unchecked.

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So basically, that gives a potted summary of what we are doing, why we are doing it and the reasoning behind it.

A nice bracket fungus to finish.

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Great work today. I reckon we have two more sessions of pulling the roots up. After that it will be much softer work because we don’t want to be disturbing our seed mix.

If anyone wants to come along and help, you are most welcome. Many hands and all that!

Paul

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Wildflower Meadow Creation

OMG, today was a killer… We went over the cleared ground on one side of our mini-meadow to remove all the bramble roots. Our choice of weapon was the mattock, which is like a pickaxe but with a flat edge as well as a pointed one. It was really hard work!!

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Four and a half of us made it today. Marcus, Chris, Kerrie with a flask of coffee, me, and Ruby, who is the half..

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Next week we are going to seed this side with our wildflower meadow mix, and then start on the other side.

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We will need to section this into three or four lots and then spend a week pulling out roots with the following week seeding it. If we are just pulling out roots every workday it will just become a horrible chore.

The rest of the time was spent tidying and stuff.

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If this area looks anything like what is in my head, it will be amazing, and then we can just add 50 square metre blocks onto each end, every year, as we learn how to manage the area throughout the summer.

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Great job today.

Paul

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Wildflower Meadow Creation

Four of us made it today. Chris, Marcus, Mick and myself, and boy did we motor through the scrub.

Our mini-meadow will look good next year.

It is going to be tough trying to grub out the bramble roots, which is why we don’t want to try and make a massive meadow in one go. Better to do little and often or we will just get disheartened.

We stacked up the scrub in a huge habitat pile right on the edge of the path.

I think we are making pretty good progress.

Paul

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Wildflower Meadow Creation

Day two of our wildflower meadow work and we got another 12 mtr by 4 mtr block cleared. Marcus did most of the clearing work and Mick started digging up bramble roots.

 

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Looking up and down from the picnic bench and the clearing is starting to take shape. We had forgotten that we had planted trees in the bit facing south, but it will add to the area, I am sure.

What we are very aware of, is that we don’t want to create a huge area straight away and then be unable to manage it next summer. So we will stick with 200 square metres and really keep on top of it, in terms of weeding out anything that is going to try to dominate. The main culprits will be bramble, nettles and rose-bay willow-herb. We can add another 200 square metres next autumn and kind of carry on over the next few years. We are never going to have rolling acres of glorious meadow because we are confined by our width, but I do feel that we are making the most of what we have got.

The other side of the path is ready to be cleared.

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I started on this towards the end of today and it is quite easy to clear.

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It is really important to keep the scrub at a good width at the edges. Small mammals will have cover from owls and other predators and, the fruit that it produces is vital for so many species of wildlife.

We need to bring mattocks and rakes next week and really get the earth as bare as possible before putting our seed mix down.

Great work today.

Paul

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Wildflower Meadow Creation

Marcus and myself made it today and we started to create our wildflower meadow. We have allowed our ideas to morph a little bit and are now creating this meadow around the communal bench in the bird-feeder area. It is just so much easier to get to and is the central part of the greenway.

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We are starting to clear four 12 mtr by 4 mtr areas around the bench. It is not looking very pretty at the moment (work in progress) but we will focus on clearing the ground and digging out the roots of brambles. Everything that we dig out will be used to create habitat piles for existing wildlife.

This will give us 200 sq mtrs of meadow. We can see how it goes, or grows, and see where we go with it. We can either extend what we have, or create another meadow area further down the path. Clay-wildflowers

We just need to be mindful of how easily we can manage these areas, once they are up and running. We will need to weed out things that start to come up that are already in the seed-bank, or at least keep them in check to give our new seeds a chance to germinate and grow. And we need to be able to mow it at the end of the season.

The seed and grass mix is this:-

35% Wildflowers

yarrow

3% Yarrow

hedge garlic

1% Hedge Garlic

cornflower

3% Cornflower

lesser knapweed

2% Lesser Knapweed

ox eye daisy

2% Oxeye Daisy

wild carrot

2% Wild Carrot

teasel

3% Teasel

Vipers bugloss

3% Vipers Bugloss

St Johns wort

1% St John’s-wort

Field Scabious

1% Field Scabious

Birds foot trefoil

3% Birdsfoot Trefoil

wild parsnip

1% Wild Parsnip

common sorrel

2% Common Sorrel

red clover

2% Red Clover

dark mullein

1% Dark Mullein

tall mullein

1% Tall Mullein

65% Grasses

meadow foxtail

5% Meadow Foxtail

crested dogstail

20% Crested Dogstail

cocksfoot

15% Cocksfoot

red fescue

10% Red Fescue

yorkshire fog

5%  Yorkshire Fog

common bent

10% Common Bent

This is a pretty exciting project and brings another layer of biodiversity to this area. To just sit at our bench and watch the birds and butterflies feeding will be fantastic.

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If you are wanting to get involved with volunteering and have a love of nature, come along and try us out.

Paul

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Bat Boxes

Marcus, Mike, Aaron and myself got the bat boxes up. A bit of research and we found out that the entrance to the chamber needs to be 15 to 20 mm wide, so we closed this up a bit. We also found that the boxes need to be mounted close together and facing the sun.

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It is all a bit of trial and error at the moment but we can keep an eye on the boxes to see if they are being used.

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If we see bat droppings under the boxes we will know that we have bats.

We refilled the bird-feeders and really it is just about me getting back into a routine with the greenway, since moving house.

Lastly, Aaron gave the sides of the path one last mow.

Next one is either meeting at the underpass and working north, or finding a clearing to plant the sack full of bluebell bulbs that Andrew gave me. It will probably be the bulbs, but I just need to find a clearing.

Great day today, great company and good work.

Paul

 

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