With Siwndon Ranger David Boase
It’s impossible not to have noticed that, barring a legendary Indian Summer, the hottest days of summer are now behind us.
Glancing at the trees we can see that autumn is beginning to work its magic, yellowing the leaves and giving us a glimpse of the glorious show of colour that is on its way.
As the natural world takes another step towards the dormancy of winter, it can be easy to forget the beauty of spring, and the fireworks of summer. The slowing down of nature can be seen as a full stop, but this is never the case.
This is the time traditionally that fields of corn are ploughed and seeded with next year’s crop. It is a practice that has taken place for thousands of years, and which has seen a whole range of splendid wildflowers, known as cornflower annuals, take their place in the countryside of the British Isles.
Flowers like the corn poppy, corn marigold, knapweed and moon daisy, to name but a few, have exploited the niche of yearly ploughing to maximum effect.
Growing tall in the summer these plants offer a vivid show of reds, blues, yellows, dazzling whites and deepest purples, while offering wildlife such as bees and butterflies an important source of pollen and nectar.
Experts state that sadly there has been a 98% fall in meadow habitat since the Second World War. Intensive farming and chemical use has taken its toll and although the land is now better protected, there is a long way to go. So, what can we do about it?
Never underestimate the power of the urban garden.
One of my favourite things to do at this time of year is to prepare the ground in my garden for next year by sowing a wildflower meadow. It really is easy, and a delight to see when it comes up next year.
Grow your own mini meadow l Select a spot for your meadow.
Clear the turf by digging off the top three inches, to remove unwanted competition.
Dig over your patch and get rid of the lumps.
Scatter your wildflower seed.
Rake in the top two inches.
Do a dance to flatten the ground.
No need to water – just wait for summer.
Buy seeds from a reputable supplier, as they source them locally and ethically and often offer great advice too. A few good names are Flora Local, LandLife and Swindon’s very own TWIGS... and don’t forget you can always call the Rangers for advice!