Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Wildflower Meadow

I have been trying to turn a meadow by the River Penk into a Wildflower Meadow. With the help of wildflower plants supplied by South Staffs. Council and with some donated bulbs. At last I have pictures to show you that indicates, I believe, that we are succeeding.
Last autumn we planted 140 bulbs of wild Snakeshead Fritillaries (Fritillaria meleagris). This flower has become a favourite of mine ever since I was involved in managing the last two meadows in Staffordshire where this flower still grows in the wild - one at Wheaton Aston and one at Tamworth. At one time - before farmers started to drain lowland wet meadows, plough them and put fertilizer and chemicals on them, many of our wetland rough grazing meadows in lowland Staffordshire must have been covered by these purple chequered bell-shaped flowers.
I now have them growing in my own garden and on the front lawn (once part of the Great Marsh of Penkridge) and over the years I have grown many from seed (they take several years before developing into a proper bulb and start to flower like the one in the photo taken today).
The plan with our Meadow is to turn it into a really beautiful natural wildlife meadow on the banks of the River Penk. We checked what was growing there before we began introducing new species and found there were very few species. We have so far introduced about ten new wild species and the Fritillary is one of the first to flower in the spring - early April is their flowering time. Penkridge Parish Council have agreed not to mow the field until after the main flowering season so that the plants can seed and spread.

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