The Plants for Bees strand of BCB had an important moment last week when with Keith and Jeannie Parker we planted a wildflower meadow at their home in Flixton. This is also one of our Apiary sites and so we should have some very happy bees next year! The hives are being re-sited and will be very close to the meadow and pond, I’m looking forward to sitting there and watching them at their work in the sunshine…
This is Rose’s account of the day, with a list of the plants she and Keith decided upon:
Today, thanks to a big team effort (and no thanks to my flagging energy and brain – guess who forgot to get the dry sand?!!) – Keith’s beautiful wildflower meadow was sown. Jeanie saved the day by pointing out that the rabbits had excavated a big pile of dry sand under the tree in her garden, which we duly sieved and then decanted into 5 buckets from the leaking wheelbarrow! The seed was all mixed together, divided and them mixed in the buckets of sand, and then broadcast in strips across the meadow.
Now hopefully, with the blessing of the nature spirits and some rain and some time, it will all germinate – (and hopefully the rabbits won’t like the plants we’ve sown!). Some seeds in the mix can take up to a year to germinate – others we should see forging ahead in spring and early summer. In the first year of growth with a wildflower meadow it needs to be cut to the one and a half inches in late June, which is a bit heart-breaking but ensures that the perennial broadleaved plants will bush out/tiller and be stronger overall – them it will need to be cut for hay in September – from the second year onwards – it should be OK to cut it just in September so we will get the long season of bee foraging in the 2nd year. this is according to the advice and experience of Chris Skinner, the farmer I went to see at Caistor St Edmund.
Keith and I have talked about sowing an annual strip down one side – or round the pond in the spring, that we leave to flower right throughout the summer and into the autumn – so that the bees will have plenty to forage on in June onwards of the first year. We have talked about sowing Red Poppy (already bought), Sainfoin (already bought – we have nearly a kilo of this) plus Phacelia.
Here is the final mix of grasses and flowers sown into this patch this autumn (including the first drilling that Keith had put in) – it’s pretty amazing:
Strong creeping red fescue grass
Chewings red fescue grass
Slender creeping red fescue grass
Sheeps fescue grass
Browntop bent grass
Birds foot trefoil
Wild Red Clover
We didn’t sow the Red Poppy into the mix as it would all get cut in June and we thought it best to keep it to sow in an annual strip in spring.
I think it would be best to leave planting the pond and banks until spring – because by then the pond will have filled a lot more and we should have a better idea of where the general waters edge will be – plus the banks will be softer for planting:
Marsh Marigold, Mullein, Hemp Agrimony, Native wild Valerian, Yellow Wild Loosestrife, more Knapweed, Meadowsweet, Watermint, Water Plantain, Branched Burrr Rush and Purple Loosestrife roots.