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Posts Tagged ‘grow british wildflowers’

In the Wildflower meadow

There are very few areas in Britain that still have traditional Wildflower meadows, many fields have been swallowed up for intensive food production, housing or industrial developments or treated to remove ‘weeds’ and maximize grass production for grazing. You often see wildflowers on the grass verges alongside our roads and motorways but unfortunately these are often cut by the local Council when they are in flower and before they have a chance to set seed, they are not in a safe place where you can enjoy, study and take photographs of them.

The Solution

Create your own Wildflower meadow in your garden, school garden, on your balcony or within your community, there may even be a small area in your housing estate, park, sports field or care home that could be used (ask the landowners permission first).

Where

Garden Soil is ideal for native Wildflowers, grow in an empty patch/border or for a natural feel you could rake an area of your lawn to remove the grass or cut out and remove the grass turfs completely to expose the soil, if you only have a balcony or back yard they can be grown in containers (with drainage holes) preferably in an open and sunny position. To protect Wild flowers growing in the countryside from cross-pollination with packet seeds, please make sure that you don’t sow seeds in or near open countryside or near nature reserves.

How

Choose a day when the ground is not too wet or dry, start by removing all of the weeds, from small ones to deep rooted perennial weeds, use a spade or fork to dig out any deep roots completely, weeds will compete with your wildflowers. Rake over the ground until its fine and crumbly, removing any large clumps or stones. Scatter your seeds finely a little at a time so that they are evenly spread over the ground. Break up into crumbs and sprinkle some of the surrounding soil over the seeds, they do not need to be totally covered some seeds will germinate better if they are not buried. Water very carefully with a fine spray so that you do not disturb the seeds. To protect the area from birds, animals or from being walked on you may want to place bright tape around and across it, push in twiggy sticks or even add a scarecrow. Check on your seeds regularly and water if the soil looks dry.

The Benefits

As well as a stunning colourful display to enjoy, wildflowers are beneficial to wildlife too:

Bees – Main pollinators of flowering plants and very important for wild flowers and growing food.

Butterflies – Their numbers are in decline, they feed on nectar using their long proboscises, in particular yellow and purple flowers.

Moths – Feed on nectar from flowers, most are nocturnal but not all are, you may see the Hummingbird Hawk Moth or the pink and green Elephant Hawk Moth on your wild flowers.

Wasps – Many are pollinators and will eat bugs such as aphids.

Hoverflies – Adult Hoverflies feed on nectar and pollen, their larvae eat aphids.

Ladybirds – Their grey larvae are voracious feeders of aphids.

Caterpillars – Butterflies and Moths lay their eggs on the food plant that their larvae will feed on, these include many species of wild flowers.

Birds – Feed on the seed heads as well as the insects on the plants

Bats – Feed on flying insects attracted to the wildflowers.

Hedgehogs – Feed on the bugs and insects within your wildflower patch.

HEDGEHOG

What you need to do

Grow Wild is giving away 100,000 free wildflower seed kits with the aim of transforming local spaces with wildflowers, each kit contains enough seed for 10sqm, if your area is smaller than this pass on and share your seeds to transform another space, the kits contain seeds native to your location; England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Register online on behalf of your group or local groups, before the closing date of midnight on 14th February 2016, for more information and to register visit growwilduk.com

Don’t delay – register today!

Gill

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Why not play your part in increasing and preserving our beautiful wildflowers by joining The Recycleworks Wildflower Seed Project 3013/2014.
 
Schools or Community Associations that support children can register FREE and they will receive 5 Seed Collecting Tins to store their valuable seed until the spring followed by instructions of how to sow and grow their wildflower seeds.
                  Seed storage tins
This year, while stocks last, we are giving away to each new member of The Recycleworks Wildflower Seed Project 2013/2014 a beautifully illustrated guide to ‘Collecting and Propagating Seed of Hay Meadow Flowers’ which has been produced by The Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust, who through their Hay Time Project work with farmers and landowners to restore meadows in the Yorkshire Dales and Forest of Bowland that have lost some of their wildlife value using seed harvested from nearby species-rich donor meadows, they involve volunteers in their work and provide educational opportunities for schools and the public. The full colour guide shows hay meadow plants in flower, their seed heads/pods and their seed as well as information on seed collecting, storage and propagation.
 
Hay Meadow seed saving brochure0001
 
 
COLLECTING SEED

Collecting seeds is a wonderful thing to do with children, they will learn where seeds come from, and not only be rewarded with free seeds but also lots of free plants in spring and with the satisfaction that they have grown them themselves from ‘their’ seed.

Some of the most rewarding and valuable seeds to collect are from Wildflowers and Nectar Rich plants which provide food for our bees, butterflies and pollinating insects, by growing these you will be giving back to nature and enriching your environment.
 
Here are some of the many plants that are beneficial to insects: Buddleia, Ox Eye Daisy, Borage, Verbena Bonariensis, Evening Primrose, Calendula, French Marigold, Teasel, Thistles, Foxglove, Cornflower.

Ox Eye Daisy

Where to look for seeds
The best places to find wildflowers are in uncultivated areas such as on grass verges, under hedges, on the edges of parks/playing fields (where the grass cutters can’t reach), church yards and meadows. Nectar rich flowers can usually be found in gardens. You may need to ask the landowners permission before entering their land to collect seed.
 
How to collect seed
You will need paper bags or envelopes, scissors and a pencil.
Some seed heads will shed their seeds very easily, simply empty their contents into your bag, or cut off the ripe seed head/pod and place in your bag then write the plant name on the bag, the date, the place and also where it was growing in sun/shade or in dry/wet soil this will help you when you grow your new plants next year. If some of the seed heads/pods are damp, lay them out on paper to dry before removing the seeds. If you are not sure of the name of the plant cut off the seed head/pods and a leaf or take a photograph so that you can identify it later.

Evening Primrose

Storing your seed
Some of the seeds will need to be cleaned by removing the husk and extracting the seeds from their pods/seed heads as these may contain small insects too. Place your dry seeds in a cold, dry and dark place until February/March. This can be in a container in the fridge so that they go through the natural cold winter conditions. It can be in a sealed tin (which will protect them from insects and animals) in the shed, but dry, cold and dark is important. If they get wet or warm they may start germinating and if it is too early for spring they will not survive.
 
Some seeds can be toxic, take care when collecting seed and always wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.
 
Make the most of the warm Autumn days and collect some wildflower seeds.
 
Gill

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