Back in April we sowed our first wildflower meadow with an annual and perennial mix of British cornflowers and wildflowers.
And then we waited………….
And we waited……..
And we waited…..
Unfortunately the summer barely arrived and as we have all been witness to, the rain fell and fell – as did the temperature. So it was no surprise that our lovely new meadow was a little sulky and slow to get going. But today I paid a visit and finally we have some evidence of new wildflowers trying their best to shine through.
So far the newly sown area has flowering Chamomile, Cornflower, Red Poppy, Marigold and Cranesbill. The greater part of the common has been managed over the last three years to encourage more wildflowers. Unfortunately, the wet weather has favoured the grasses which have grown taller than previous years and are tending to block the light of the shorter wildflowers.
However, Comfrey is still the absolute favourite of the bees and it’s great to see it pushing through for a second time from the centre. Whilst the older stems have collapsed under the weight of the rain and are dying back. Natures’ own ‘Chelsea Chop’ means this fantastic plant has been supplying nectar to hungry bees for nearly the whole of summer.
Just as the early wildflowers are coming to an end the Rosebay Willowherb is in full bloom.
This lovely tall pink to red flower is found along hedgerows and roadside verges and is an excellent source of nectar for the latter part of summer. This is another reason why our hedgerows and verges are essential for maintaining healthy biodiversity in our countryside.
Creeping Thistle has just starting to flower in the last couple of days and last year this plant attracted a wealth of hoverflies, flies, bees and moths during its late summer flowering period. I managed to photograph a few visitors today, but again, the weather is somewhat challenging and seems to be negatively affecting the number of pollinators.
We had hoped to do a bug count for Buglife and fingers crossed this will still happen, though it’s difficult to tell how many species will have survived the weather conditions. Butterflies are also struggling due to the weather, but David Dennis, Butterfly Conservation has kindly been popping by to see what butterflies the wider area is attracting and a few days ago was delighted to photograph a pristine Marble White (male) fresh out of its chrysalis, a Meadow brown (abundant across the whole of the common) and a Silver Y moth (see his photos below). So there is some success to report.
On the periphery of the new meadow, plugs of Teasel (visited in winter by Goldfinch for the seeds) and aromatic Hedge Woundwort (loved by bees) have been planted. Along the hedgerow behind the new meadow area, Foxglove and Hollyhock seeds were sown and are shooting up briskly, helped by the extra rainfall.
The plan is to collect seeds, at the end of summer, from the annual meadow plants to re-sow next year until the perennial wildflowers are established. Thereafter some of the seeds will be collected and distributed to the local community so that they can create their own wild flower area in their gardens and on permitted local roadside verges and hedgerow. Let’s hope the rain holds off long enough for the wildflowers to fully flower, set seed and dry out enough for collection. We wait with baited breath.
Wherever you live why not try sowing a wildflower meadow area this Autumn and you will be rewarded with a lovely spring meadow next year. For further information contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our step by step by step guide on How to Plant a Meadow.