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 Site Plan - click to enlarge.
- 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
Click on photos for a larger version.
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
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.
Wild flower and grass species in seed mix - click for larger image.
Grasses (4 species):
- common bent, crested dogstail, slender-creeping red fescue,
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,
Partners & Suppliers
Tesco Bags of Help
Contributions in kind:
- initial cut & collect in part 2 project,
- site maintenance & repairs
Interpretation board - Fitzpatrick Woolmer
- 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