The Marine Way Wild Flower Bank.
After a trial in 2011 (described below) when the flowers did not thrive we tried a different approach in 2015.
The aim was to reduce grass-cutting to once a year, and provide year-round interest. In the Autumn we strimmed, raked off and killed the grass in an area opposite the Station, then sowed dwarf grass and perennial wild flower seeds.
The result of our efforts was a surprise. The daffodils which have naturalised the bank over many years flowered like never before, presumably because they didn’t have to fight their way through the dense grass. Unfortunately their leaves do make it quite difficult for the wildflowers to find enough light to grow. We removed spent foliage and weeds and this enabled more flowers to grow. A Wildflower information board was designed and installed in 2018. This shows photos of the wild flowers that were sown in the mix.
We sourced the seeds from Emorsgate Seeds. The mix EM3 (special general purpose meadow mixture) contains a wide range of flower species:
- yarrow (achillea millefolium)
- betony (betonica officinalis)
- common knapweed (centaurea nigra)
- greater knapweed (centaurea scabiosa)
- wild carrot (daucus caroat)
- meadowsweet (filipendula ulmaria)
- hedge bedstraw (glaium album)
- lady’s bedstraw (galium verum)
- rough hawkbit (leontodon hispidus)
- oxeyedaisy (leucanthemum vulgare)
- birdsfoot trefoil (lotus corniculatus)
- wild marjoram (origanum vulgare)
- hoary plantain (plantago media)
- salad burnet (poterium sanguisorba)
- cowslip (primula veris)
- selfheal (prunella vulgaris)
- meadow buttercup (ranunculus acris)
- yellow rattle (rhinanthus minor)
- sorrel (rumex acetosa)
- red campion (silene dioica)
- ragged robin (silene flow-cuculi)
- wild red clover (trifolium pratense)
- tufted vetch (vicia cracca)
- crested dogstail (cynosurus cristatus)
- slender creeping red fescue (festuca rubra)
- smaller cat’s-tail (pleum bertolonii)
- common bent (agrostis capillaris)
The whole bank is now beginning to thrive as a result of all our efforts.
The original Project: (October 2011)
- Tom Hynes, Biodiversity Officer for Devon County Council, met Exmouth in Bloom members on site. In his opinion, the grass is too vigorous for wildflowers to become established. He recommended weakening the grass by sowing yellow rattle seeds with wildflower seeds. Seeds were sourced from Devon grower Goren Farm.
- The ground was prepared by raking out the thatch, strimming the grass, raking again and scarifying the soil. Seeds were sown at 1g per square metre into strips of 5m x 1.5m near the top of the bank, starting at the station end, with gaps of 10m in between the strips. We have sown 7 strips. In theory the flowers will produce seeds next year and will spread along and down the bank. We hope they will cohabit with the daffodils already in the bank.
- Yellow rattle will parasitise the grass as it grows. It requires short grass in January and removal of weeds such as thistles, ragwort and dock. Germination is in February after cold weather; flowers by late May; produces seed in early July which are only viable for a few months. Thus October is the ideal month for sowing yellow rattle.[/myprefix_one_half]
- The wildflowers sown with yellow rattle were common knapweed, yarrow, corky fruited water dropwort, betony, cowslip, birdsfoot trefoil, red campion, meadow vetchling and common vetch.
- DCC cut the grass on the bank once per year in September. This is ideal for wildflowers.
- In spring 2012 we planned to plant ox-eye daisy plugs and foxgloves in the bank.
- Whilst working on the bank, we attracted a lot of attention from passers-by, who generally approved of our efforts.
- We have been offered wild poppy seeds, wild strawberry plants and wild foxglove seedlings and hope to include these in future.
- Exmouth in Bloom would like to thank Tom Hynes and the late Pat Attard for their expertise and encouragement with this project.