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Stort Valley Summary

Stort Valley Meadows -
Access for All

Stort Valley Meadows -
Habitat improvement

Wildflower Meadow Restoration

Brenthall & Barnsley Wood -
Access & Wildlife



Stort Valley Meadows -

Wildflower Meadow Restoration (Stort Valley Phase 3)

meadow, May 2018
Wildflower meadow, May 2018 - click to enlarge.

The background to this project is that over recent decades Britain has lost over 97% of its wildflower meadows to intensive farming and building development; this in turn has caused a significant reduction in the insects that pollinate amongst other things our food crops.

The objective of this project is to restore the wildflower population and the associated pollinating insects in one of the meadows in the Stort valley, Harlow. The meadow is part of the Town Park Marsh Local Wildlife Site (LoWS) (Town Park, Stage IV). The meadow is one of three in the area which were raised up to a metre above natural with additional soil and building waste during the building of the new town to create sports pitches — something unthinkable in a flood-plain today! The meadow had been seeded with vigorous grasses and managed for many years by a conventional mowing regime, and as a result had very little floral content.

The restoration process comprises cutting and removing as much of the old grass as possible, followed by herbicide spraying to get rid of what remained, soil cultivation, and sowing a seed mixture of non-vigorous grasses and native wildflower species. The key to the success of the project in the longer term will be appropriate mowing of the meadow at the right time of year.

The project has been carried out in two parts. Part 1, consisting of the restoration of about half the meadow plus an interpretation board for the meadow has been funded by a £10,000 grant from the Tesco Bags of Help scheme which is administered by Groundwork UK. Part 2, restoring the remainder of the meadow, was contributed to by Harlow Council and funded by a private donation. The total value of Parts 1 and 2 is £18,200.

project plan
Project Site Plan - click to enlarge.

Project Elements

Contractor delivered

  • cutting and removal from site of original grass sward
  • spraying with herbicide (glyphosate based)
  • soil cultivation
  • spraying and soil cultivation operations repeated twice more to minimize regrowth of original vegetation
  • sowing seed mixture of non-vigorous grasses and native wildflower species
  • rolling the surface after seed sowing

Volunteer delivered elements

  • removal of large stones revealed after grass cutting to avoid damage to cultivator
  • design of interpretation board panel
  • installation of interpretation board
    (with funder's plaque attached)
  • construction and installation of a seat overlooking meadow
     - not required as a sponsored memorial park bench was installed instead


  • mowing grass paths through the meadow
meadow before cut old sward herbicide spraying soil cultivation surface rolling seed germination
Click on photos for a larger version.

Time line


Application made to Tesco Bags of Help round 2 - May 2016
Voting in-store by Tesco customers for short-listed projects - October 2016
Additional £2,000 awarded after vote - December 2016
Revised budget submitted - 20 December 2016
Contractor starts on site - March 2017
Interpretation board ordered - 16 March 2017
Contractor works completed: seed mix sown - September 2017
Interpretation board installed by volunteers - May 2018


National Meadows Weekend event - 8 July 2018
Cut grass paths through meadow
Ongoing management by "cut & collect" - TBD

Project Specification

Project areas

Part1: 0.65 Hectares (6,500 sq.metres, 1.6 Acres)
Part2: 0.65 Hectares (6,500 sq.metres, 1.6 Acres)

Wildflower/grass seed mixture

As recommended for this type of site by the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and seed suppliers Emorsgate Seeds. wildflower spieces poster
Wild flower and grass species in seed mix - click for larger image.

Grasses (4 species):

  • common bent, crested dogstail, slender-creeping red fescue,
    small cats-tail

Wild flowers (23 species):

  • ox-eye daisy, birdsfoot trefoil, betony, buttercup,
    common knapweed, lady's bedstraw, cowslip, salad burnet,
    greater knapweed, hoary plantain, meadow sweet, tufted vetch,
    ragged robin, hedge bedstraw, wild carrot, red campion, selfheal,
    wild marjoram, yellow rattle, yarrow, red clover, common sorrel,
    rough hawkweed

Partners & Suppliers


Tesco Bags of Help
Groundwork UK


Harlow Council
Contributions in kind:
  - initial cut & collect in part 2 project,
  - site maintenance & repairs

Main contractor

Maydencroft Rural

Other suppliers

Interpretation board - Fitzpatrick Woolmer


Contractor supervision
  - Colin Lincoln
Grant application and claims
  - Andrew Tomlins, Sally Naylor, & Colin Lincoln

Practical volunteer tasks:
Harlow Conservation Volunteers
Mini-digger: David Davison of Harlow Tye Rotary Club

Interpretation board design & photography
  - Colin Lincoln

Tesco Bags of Help logo Groundwork logo

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© Website design by A.G.Tomlins. This page written by Andrew Tomlins.
Last updated 20 June 2018

page URL: www.harlowwildlife.org.uk/hwp/svm-wildflower.htm