Time for a quick catch up on the meadow areas ahead of our courses at the end of the week. There’s nothing very photogenic going on in Caroline’s new patch, which at the moment features a whole load of Rattle, clearing the way for more seed in the autumn. At least it has taken well and the bumblebees are enjoying it. All the wildflower annuals we have here this year are spring sown, so still not in flower yet, and interestingly it looks like no Cornflowers or Poppies have made it through the dry spring. In contrast to Archie’s meadow! This is the meadow we stripped of top soil and sowed last year in the corner of one of Archie’s potato fields on the A303, just east of Sparkford. We not only seeded it with a mix of perennial wildflowers and grasses, but splashed it with annuals too for some early colour and to help suppress the weeds. As a point-and-click photographer I haven’t done it justice, but what do you think?
The movement in the wind of the grasses we have used is as magical as the flowers. What happens next? In the short term there are more annuals to flower. The meadow is bursting with Corncockle, which will turn it purple (just coming into flower at the bottom of the Cornflower pic) – more photos to come in our gallery section. Once all the species have flowered we’ll cut it. I’m not sure whether it will be possible to wait until all the annuals have set seed; if it does we’ll use the green hay to seed an adjacent bare area. This will leave the developing perennials, which will then have time do to some further growing. The meadow will look quite different next year. It may increasingly look like the area we have at home, but as we prepared the ground so differently – by stripping off the topsoil rather than have the pigs on it as we did here – I’m not sure quite what it will look like… Our main meadow area at home is currently swamped in Buttercup and Rattle, with Red Clover, Oxeye Daisies and Sorrel also out: Related Posts: Archie’s Meadow Goes Bananas Yellow Rattle Archie’s Meadow – Update
I’ve blogged before about the meadow we’re putting in at Archie’s farm (‘Local seed for meadows’). Over the summer we’ve been preparing a corner of one of his potato fields for sowing – you can see the pictures here. The idea is that it will attract people’s attention, as it’s next to the A303, visible from the Eastbound carriageway about half a mile from the Sparkford roundabout. It will also act as a venue for our meadow management courses which start next year, allow us to showcase some interesting seed mixes, and, of course, create a stunning new meadow for Archie (and, with a bit of luck, the odd Shrill Carder Bee).
Yesterday we sowed it. After a last minute weed and some tidying up of the margins with my trusty scythe we sowed two seperate mixes. On the western third of the site we are trialling a mix from the Blackdown Hills, which is as local as I can find and which should be fascinating. We hope to sell it next year, supplies permitting; it comes from Goren Farm, who currently supply our Yellow Rattle. Lots of Rattle in the mix, interestingly, and some beautiful grasses. We’re using well proven mixes for the other two thirds; our diverse Special General Purpose Mix of native grasses and perennials, over which we have sown Cornfield annuals as a nurse. These are both fantastic quality mixes from Herbiseed.
I hope we’ve done a reasonable job. The soil was damp (and got a lot damper !), the surface good and clean, and we used a fair bit of sand to bulk up the mix and to show us where we had been. We also regulated our application rate to have enough seed to broadcast it west/east and north/south, if you see what I mean. Hand sowing is, however, a bit of an art, and it did rain pretty hard yesterday afternoon,so fingers crossed. If we’ve left lots of gaps I’ll sneak out in the Spring and infill them without your knowing, anyway…