& free seeds
Romshed Farm, Underriver is experimenting with different ways to establish wildflower meadows and is keen to support other people wishing to have a go at creating wildflower areas, however small or big!
We love showing people our hay meadows which are at their best from mid June to mid July (depending on the weather).
Please contact Fidelity Weston on 01732 463372 for more information and to invite yourself around.
The key step to establishing a wildflower area is to reduce soil fertility – this means no fertilisers, poor soils and always remove grass / vegetation.
This allows the wild flowers to compete with grass and find their way through.
We are doing the following:
We had denuded this field of nutrients so we could completely reseed in a seed and grass mix from an ancient meadow managed by the Weald Meadows Initiative. Four years on, it is looking like this and we are now happy to give seed or a green hay crop to anyone wanting to use it.
Nutrients in this field were normal. We needed to reduce grass growth to leave space for wildflowers. We scattered a bag of yellow rattle (which is parasitic on grass) across the field in the autumn having just taken a hay crop. Now in our third year, some of the seedbank in the field has started to come on through and the field is teaming with crickets and grasshoppers on the red clover and sorrel that has came up.
We now have so much yellow rattle that we are happy to give it away to anyone wanting to try some.
This is a slower process. We are managing it as an old fashioned hay meadow, taking hay and not putting on any manure. It is alive with bumblebees enjoying the vetches and clovers which are coming through the long grass.
If you look in the sward you can see the trefoils coming through the grasses – this was the first change that took place in the field – they almost took over one year. Now, three years on from that photo we have a good mix of clovers, vetches, trefoils and lots of different grasses and various flowers coming through.
This mix is really good for insects and in particular bees.
See links for bumble bees and wildflowers below and our other pages on meadow recreation.
Nikki Gammans is doing some great work on bumble bees and wildflowers.
Late-cut hay meadows, or silage fields that are not cut before late May with subsequent cuts at least seven weeks apart, can provide excellent habitat for nesting Skylarks (Alauda arvensis). The RSPB has more advice on the needs of farming advice for skylarks.