The hot prolonged spell of weather during Spring/Summer 2022 was a testing time for our native wildflower meadows. The high temperatures pushed the wildflowers rapidly through growth stages with, plants setting seed weeks earlier than they traditionally would do. Giving your meadow a early cut late February early March, followed by a high cut late May early June will in turn promote a second flush of growth and extend the flowering period of the wild flowers .
Climate change is having a big impact on our environment, this in turn could lead to a greater chance of phenological mismatch. This occurs when interacting species change the timing of regularly repeated phases of their life cycles at different rates.
Some species of Bee will in turn only feed from certain species of flower. Such phenological shifts would reduce the floral available to pollinators. The effect of which would be exacerbated in species with narrow dietary preferences.
The curtailment of the foraging season through the earlier maturing flora will be a significant problem for Bee species which forage on late season flowering plants.
Climate change is widely expected to drive some species to extinction by reducing the amount and accessibility of suitable habitat.
The impact of climate change upon the range, abundance and seasonal activity of some wild pollinator species has already been observed. By the end of September 2022, the native wildflower meadow had completed its natural cycle. Bees where still foraging in great numbers on flowers in the prairie meadow which was still in full bloom.
Prairie meadows flowers which contain species like Cone flower, Rudbekia, Agastache and Tickseed are late flowering and great for pollinators. The flower heads can be left to seed as they are a great source of food for birds through the winter months. Maintenance of the meadow takes place in the spring when the dead growth is cut down and can be left as a mulch. It is also the ideal time to remove any perrenial weeds.
To see prairie flowers standing alongside our native wildflowers may well not be to everyone’s taste, but in order to aid the survival of some pollinators we may be left with no choice.
Some more shots of previous and recent work of Wildflower spaces we have created.
We look forward to updating these pictures showing you how they develop over the coming months.
We also undertake meadow maintence involving mowing and seeding of Wildflower areas.
Creating Wildflower Spaces in an Urban Setting
These two projects took place in the Autumn 2021 with the remit to create wildflower spaces in an urban environment. One using both wildflower turf and Meadowscape Pro (a seeded substrate mixed with wildflower seed) and the other using wildflower turf.
The aim of both these projects was to achieve the same outcome, to enhance our green and open spaces. Increase the biodiversity by introducing grasses and wildflowers therefore attracting bees, butterflies, invertebrate and birds. Since the start of the covid 19 pandemic people have shown greater appreciation for green spaces and parks in turn helping to relieve anxiety,improve wellbeing and other issues surrounding mental health
One project formed part of a regeneration scheme where residents were looking to enhance the area, take pride in where they lived as well as increasing the biodiversity https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_SfYO8-rFU . In this instance it was felt that wildflower turf was best suited for the project. The reason being that the turf does give the ‘instant’ meadow and unlike seeding is not susceptible to damage from footfall. The local school also became involved with the children designing interpretation boards explaining the benefits of wildflowers.
Managing the public perception of wildflower spaces needs be taken into consideration. A regularly mown strip of grass around areas of wildflowers and those which are alongside pavements give an indication to the public that the area is still managed and avoids the situation of tall flower stands blocking access routes. Again, interpretation boards can also help in this situation.
The second project involved establishing areas of wildflowers in public open spaces those being a roundabout and a park using meadowscape pro. Another area was originally down to pea shingle on a pedestrian route linking the town centre and a supermarket. It was neglected and visually not attractive for pedestrians. This area was ideal for the creation of a wildflower space it would still be minimal maintenance, more aesthetically pleasing and increase the biodiversity of the area. As the site was so uneven beneath the shingle and to save on costs the shingle would stay in place, and we would treat the site like a green roof but minus any irrigation system. We would lay down substrate sacks on top of the shingle, screed it over again with a shallow layer of loose substrate and then lay the turf.
As the turf was laid in the Autumn it will be well established by this spring and we look forward to posting up some photos later in the year.
Establishing a Wildflower Meadow within a Cemetery
April allowed us to resume groundwork once again after an extremely wet March. We have created islands of Wildflowers with paths running in between, allowing access to the headstones. Stone kerbing which was a potential trip hazard has been lifted and reused as seating which has been placed around the cemetery.
The Wildflower Seed Mix we used contains 38 floral and 3 grass species all UK native. This gives a mix of Wildflowers compatible with areas of Shade and full Sun. Meadowscape Pro was used as a way of establishing the Wildflowers in this instance rather than Wildflower Turf. This consists of the wildflower seed mixed with substrate, resulting in good seed distribution, improved germination and establishment as opposed to sowing seed directly into the soil.
Irrigation is also crucial to good germination.
Ensure you have access to a water supply when installing Meadowscape Pro or Wildflower Turf. Unless you have access to irragation it is best to sow Meadowscape Pro or Wildflower Turf in the Autumn or Early Spring and rely on natural rainfall. Lawn to Wildflower Meadow Part 1Lawn to Wildflower Meadow Part 2
This particular site was thick with brambles. Regular monitoring will be required to keep them from encroaching back into the meadow. It was also particularly uneven therefore a lot of soil disturbance took place in order to level the site. Meadowscape is best established on sites where existing turf has either been removed or sprayed off. This method ensures you are keeping soil disturbance to a minimum and avoiding disturbing any weed seeds below the surface.
The pathways and open spaces will be sown with a low maintenance conservation grass mix this Autumn. Leaving areas unmown will hopefully encourage back slow worms and other invertebrates back onto the site.
The Meadow will receive its first cut this Autumn. A cut and remove mowing regime will be implemented in order to reduce fertility in the soil. During the first 2-3 years plant growth can be vigorous until fertility levels reduce.
It may be necessary to do 2 cuts per year if the plants start to lean over or “lodge”. This can result in some smaller plants being smothered out.
The first being in June the Second in late September/early October.
We will post up more pictures throughout the Summer.
Case Study-Disused Cemetery Pembrokeshire
The project involves clearing an area of 1200m² and establishing a Wildflower Meadow covering 400m². This will provide a much needed green space for the local community to enjoy. By establishing a wildflower meadow we create a habitat for numerous pollinators and insects as well as preserving our native flora. The more diversity we have in our enviroment will in turn support more birds, animals and insects that are crucial to maintaining our Biodiversity.
The initial work has involved clearing the area of scrub,brambles and a thick mat of grass. It is crucial when you are preparing the area for your meadow that all arisings are collected when you cut it, as they will put fertility back into the ground if they remain. The aim is to reduce soil fertility, wildflowers thrive better in low fertility soils otherwise they will be swamped out by grasses and more domineering plant species. This part of the project is key to establishing a successful wildflower meadow. Brambles have long shoots and take root where the tips of the plant come into contact with the soil enabling the plant to spread very quickly.The roots have to be removed from the soil either dug out by hand or if working on a lager area a landrake bucket on a digger works well but is best attempted when soil conditions are dry. It may be necessary to repeat this operation a number of times removing any new growth which appears in order to create a clean seedbed. Do not attempt to rotavate brambles you will just multiply the problem as brambles have the ability to regenerate from chopped root material.
Chemical control is the quickest and cheapest method of weed control, and can have a part to play on sites difficult to access with machinery or with very thin top soils where stripping off the top layer of soil is not an option, although top soil can be brought in to replace it, it is both an added expense along with the risk of importing a new weed seed bank.
Headstones which were in a dangerous state or had toppled over have been relocated to the perimeter of the graveyard and set horizontal on the ground. Any kerbing was also lifted which could cause a trip hazard or impede mowing, this will be reused as seating at a later date.
Lawn to Wildflower Meadow Part 3
Late Summer has been busy in the meadow it has been amazing to see how many pollinators and insects have taken up residence in such a short space of time. The Meadow will be cut sometime late September/Early October after the flowers have set seed with the Yarrow being the last flower to set seed but not before the flower has gone from White to Purple, and the meadow changing from Summer green to Autumn Brown