In March I said that I was going to make regular updates about anything new or interesting, and failed dismally. There was always pressure to be outside where I am confident and have an infinite amount to do, and the option of a struggle with my computer was endlessly put off……until now!
It has been an exciting summer; even in the dismal weather of August and September there have been lots of people, too often under umbrellas, but apparently enjoying themselves. And for me, having finished my folly building phase, I am totally absorbed in the fascination of plants and planting and all their options and combinations. So now with the garden closed but the plants still visible and in mind we are very busy with a large and long overdue sort out, splitting, and, in many places, replanting.
There is lots that I could have written about in the summer but one thing which seems to be topical for many people is wild flowers. The meadow here runs beside the stream and is both moist and fertile and when I took it over it had rank tall grass with few wild flowers. With no access for machinery the first years were given to annual mowing, hand raking and then, with no option, burning. Three years followed attempting to establish yellow rattle but it was a hard struggle with the rattle tending to disappear unless more seed was used each year. Last year was the most successful when we had collected a lot of seed from kind friends and applied it after strimming down to bare earth in small patches covering about 20% of the whole 1.5 acre area.
But I felt that I don’t have the time for this slow progress, and scraping off the topsoil appealed. In early 2015 I scraped about 10cm off across a small area (about 50 m2) but stopped after being disconcerted that there was no apparent difference down through fine uniform loam. However, after seeding both the scraped and an unscraped area the resulting growth was remarkably different. That led to scraping in November 2015 about 30 % of the whole meadow in the area where grass had been most vigorous, followed by spring sowing with an appropriate grass and wild flower mix. The result was grass of much reduced vigour in 2016. In August we added yellow rattle in the strimmed areas throughout the meadow with the result shown in the above 2017 pictures. It does now seem that by adding additional seed varieties we have a good chance of the area developing very well.