Monday, 9 December 2013

Wild Flowers and Front Gardens in Sidmouth

Following on from
Futures Forum: Wild Flowers and Front Gardens
locally, Sidmouth in Bloom has been working tirelessly to enhance gardens and vistas:
Futures Forum: Sidmouth in Bloom
Futures Forum: VGS AGM: Sidmouth in Bloom

There have been other planting projects:
Futures Forum: Biodiversity in Sidmouth: Beach Garden
Futures Forum: Keith Owen Fund: one million bulbs: community planting: reports

And the Friends of the Byes have been working with the District Council to plant a wild flower meadow:
Futures Forum: Sid Meadow in June 2013... and July 2012
Futures Forum: Sid Meadow in July...

Sid Meadow wildflowers July 2012: FOTB

Sid Meadow wildflowers July 2013: FOTB

The question is 'what to do next year' at Sid Meadow. 

The wild flowers were a great success this year - popular with the public and invertebrate life, with the District Council providing the display. However, there are not the funds for the Friends of the Byes to continue the wild flowers into the future. Nevertheless, the ground will be kept uncultivated next year - to see what will comme up from natural regeneration from those species which will have seeded freely. They will produce a good display for a week or so, but it will not be as spectacular as this summer.

There are different methods to sow a wild flower meadow - as outlined by Monty Don this evening. The seed mix from Nove Flore the last two years is designed to attract and promote beneficial insects. A standard treatment is to use a weed killer to kill any pernicious weeds present - although after a couple of years, this should not be needed, as the seed bank from the old field will have been exhausted). The ground would then be 'subsoiled' to break up the hard pan under the surface and then cultivated to produce a tilth to sow into, using  a special seed drill to sow the seed and firm the surface.

Alternatively, a 'scrape' technique could be used, which is also costly in terms of time and funding, but it removes the top layer of soil where the seed bank for the weeds sit, as well as the nitrogen in  the top layers which feeds them. Wild flowers do not need a nutrient rich soil therefore they will flourish without competition. However, the top soil at Sid Meadow was found to be well over half a metre deep - rather too much for a scrape.

Also, a more specific mix could be sown. Spraying would be needed, to reduce the over-competitive nitrogen feeders (ie, weeds). And it has been suggested that annual, rather than perennial, flower seeds could be sown - again, to build up the bank of 'non-grasses'.

And at the SVA's Margaret's Meadow, yellow rattle has been used:
Pupils clear Sidmouth beaches of litter - News - Sidmouth Herald
Sid Vale Association - Woodlands and Estates
Using Yellow Rattle to increase species diversity | Further information | Emorsgate Seeds – (01553) 829 028
Yellow rattle: the meadow-maker's helper | Life and style | theguardian.com

The major issue, though, is that wild flower meadows are difficult to get established and do not always 'take' as quickly as people are lead to believe.

See also:

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