Wild about Wildflowers: Sunday 15 April 2012

Today the rain just held off for the latest project to take place at Parkinson’s Park. As part of the RHS Britain in Bloom launch celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the beginning of National Gardening Week, a small band of volunteers sowed a 10 m square patch of prepared ground near the farm gate with a packet of cornfield annuals donated by the environmental charity Landlife. The seeds in the seed mix include corn poppy (Papaver rhoeas), corn marigold (Chrysanthemum segetum), corn chamomile (Anthemis arvensis), corncokle (Agrostemma githago) and cornflower (Centaurea cyanus) and should create a bright and colourful display. Councillor Latty came along to support the event and got his hands dirty!

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Scattering the seeds

In this photo (from left to right): Jane Blake, Josie Brooks, Nicola Denson, Chris Parapia and Councillor Graham Latty. Photo taken by Barbara Winfield

In the UK our wildflower populations are in serious decline with an estimated loss of 97% of the wildflower meadows between 1930s and 1980s. This is having a knock-on effect on the rest of the food chain. When wildflowers are lost the insects which feed upon them are lost too in many cases. Insects pollinate our plants, control other pests and provide food for birds and other animals.

The corn poppy and the cornflower have RHS Perfect for Pollinators status, which are especially attractive to bees, hoverflies and moths, butterflies and other flower-visiting insects. We hope that our new wildflower patch will establish successfully and provide abundant food for insects and an attractive show for users of the park too.

We also planted some foxgloves kindly donated by Barbara Winfield, who also took part in the wildflower sowing today, and snowdrops donated by Jane Blake.

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Planting Foxgloves

In this photo: Josie Brooks planting foxgloves

Planting of wildflower meadows is not easy and unless the area is prepared properly and managed correctly the result can be disappointing and messy. If all the conditions are correct and the appropriate amount of work put in then they can be a successful and rewarding addition to any garden or park. We would like to create larger areas of perennial wildflower meadows elsewhere in the park in the future but to make this more likely to succeed we would aim to grow as many seeds as possible into established plants before planting them out. If you would be interested in helping with this project and have room in your greenhouse / potting shed or garden over the summer then please get in touch via the website. We would provide the seeds but donations of suitable plants would also be very welcome.

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