Welcome guest, please Login or Register

Welcome to BBCT Forum Home

   

Ask the experts on April 5th

Rank

Total Posts: 6

Joined 2012-04-23

PM

Ever tried to make a wildflower patch in your garden? Had any problems?

Members of our Conservation Team are going to be online on 5th April to chat about making wildflower patches and meadows in your garden. They’ll be able to provide advice on getting started, meadow maintenance, and any questions you have. Post your questions here, and they’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

     

Image Attachments

Roslin_Glen_Meadow_August_2008_No4.jpg

Click thumbnail to see full-size image

Rank

Total Posts: 2

Joined 2013-04-04

PM

What should we do to protect the bees we attract to our wildflower patch from the neonicotinoids over the fence?
Biff Vernon, The Louth Festival of the Bees.

     
Rank

Total Posts: 1

Joined 2013-04-04

PM

I’d like to know what kind of seed mixes to plant this spring time. And whether it’s worth sprinkling an area on my local green space, as I don’t have a garden. Could this affect the ecology in a bad way?


http://sprouting-out.blogspot.co.uk/

     
Rank

Total Posts: 1

Joined 2013-04-05

PM

I am trying to create a wildflower meadow area in my village nature reserve. So far we have employed a new cutting regime which is a hard cut in the autumn and removal of cuttings, we have scattered a good number of seeds with limited success. There has been some success with Yellow rattle establishing.
Can you please advise on how to take things forward with the project

     
Rank

Total Posts: 16

Joined 2013-01-30

PM

biffvernon - 04 April 2013 10:08 AM

What should we do to protect the bees we attract to our wildflower patch from the neonicotinoids over the fence?
Biff Vernon, The Louth Festival of the Bees.

Hi Biff, there are a number of things farmers can do to minimise the impact of insecticides if they are using sprays -  such as not spraying on windy days, only spraying at night when insects won’t be flying and not spraying right up the field edges - so perhaps there is potential to talk to the landowner ?  If they are not sprays then really the best thing to do is to ensure your wildflower patch is thriving throughout the season and has the right kind of flowers in it for bees to attract them into your area rather than the adjacent fields. Oilseed rape for example is attractive to the short tongued bumbleebees so if you can provide the open flowers they like such as knapweed, scabious, mallow and bramble they will hopefully be tempted in.

Thanks
Jo

     
Rank

Total Posts: 16

Joined 2013-01-30

PM

sproutingout - 04 April 2013 10:35 AM

I’d like to know what kind of seed mixes to plant this spring time. And whether it’s worth sprinkling an area on my local green space, as I don’t have a garden. Could this affect the ecology in a bad way?

Hi there,  I probably wouldn’t advise seeding in your local green space without speaking to the landowners and managers. The seeds are fairly unlikely to be successful unless the area is managed properly after sowing and you would need to check you were choosing species appropriate to the location.  BBCT have produced a great to new pack to help people persuade their local authorities to plant up bee-friendly flower areas though, so this could give you some good tips. You have to register as a volunteer and then we can send the pack out - contact volunteering @bumblebeeconservation.org.  Even if you don’t have a garden though you could plant up spring containers at this time of the year with bee friendly perennial plants such as primrose, bluebell, crocus and lungwort,  or sow an annual mix of cornfield flowers such as poppy, cornflower, corn chamomile and corncockle. 

Thanks, Jo

     
Rank

Total Posts: 3

Joined 2012-11-29

PM

Hi Jo

Just how low does soil fertility need to be to get a perennial meadow going and why?  Is this to keep the grass and other thuggy “weeds” down such as nettle and dock?  Does the same apply to a cornfield/ wildflower annual patch with eg corn marigold, corn cockle, corn flower, poppies etc?  I would have thought they would resond to fertility as this would occur in a corn field eg with muck spread on it?

Grateful for clarification.  Many thanks.

     
Rank

Total Posts: 16

Joined 2013-01-30

PM

Gurd - 05 April 2013 10:06 AM

I am trying to create a wildflower meadow area in my village nature reserve. So far we have employed a new cutting regime which is a hard cut in the autumn and removal of cuttings, we have scattered a good number of seeds with limited success. There has been some success with Yellow rattle establishing.
Can you please advise on how to take things forward with the project

Hi there,  it is always tricky to get wildflower seeds established in existing grassland.  I have outlined the general method to go about it below and it sounds as though you are already on the right track.

•  Cut the grass very short at the end of the summer and remove the cuttings.
•  Create 50% bare ground in area where seeds will be sown.  In order for seeds to successfully germinate they need to be sown onto bare ground. Sowing into closed grassland is extremely likely to be unsuccessful.  The grass can be scarified mechanically with discs or a chain harrow.  If it is difficult to access the site with machinery then it can be done by hand by removing sections of vegetation/raking or spraying off sections of vegetation. 
• Sow seed mixture at rate of 2-4g/m2 onto prepared surface in August/September when grass growth will be in decline.  On a small scale this can be done by hand broadcasting.
•Do not rake or harrow after sowing to cover seed. Most wildflower seeds are very fine and will not germinate if buried. Tread in to ensure the seeds have good contact with the ground.
• In the period after sowing keep the grass short so that light helps germination. Cut it regularly and remove the cuttings.
• In the first spring it may be necessary to cut the grass to prevent the seedlings being shaded out by the existing vegetation.

You can then carry on managing with a hay cut and remove at the end of the summer/autumn as you have been doing.  Another alternative would be to use plug plants as they are able to compete with the grasses more successfully. If you have got yellow rattle established then that is great as it will start to weaken the surrounding grasses.  Establishing a wildflower meadow is a long term project so it can take a good number of years to reduce the fertility and get the flowers you want - but don’t give up -  good luck !

 

     
Rank

Total Posts: 2

Joined 2013-04-04

PM

Jo BBCT Conservation Officer South West - 05 April 2013 01:00 PM
biffvernon - 04 April 2013 10:08 AM

What should we do to protect the bees we attract to our wildflower patch from the neonicotinoids over the fence?
Biff Vernon, The Louth Festival of the Bees.

Hi Biff, there are a number of things farmers can do to minimise the impact of insecticides if they are using sprays -  such as not spraying on windy days, only spraying at night when insects won’t be flying and not spraying right up the field edges - so perhaps there is potential to talk to the landowner ?  If they are not sprays then really the best thing to do is to ensure your wildflower patch is thriving throughout the season and has the right kind of flowers in it for bees to attract them into your area rather than the adjacent fields. Oilseed rape for example is attractive to the short tongued bumbleebees so if you can provide the open flowers they like such as knapweed, scabious, mallow and bramble they will hopefully be tempted in.

Thanks
Jo

Thanks Jo.  So no point in asking the UK and German Governments to stop blocking the neonicotinoid ban in the light of today’s report from the Parliamentary Environment Audit Committee? http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/environmental-audit-committee/publications1/

     
RankRankRankRank

Total Posts: 271

Joined 2012-05-24

PM

Hi Jo,

Good to meet you and to take part in this Forum session.
We have an unusual problem where I live-  but it maybe gives an opportunity to get some more BB flowers into our lawns and verges.

Let me explain ...
We live in a small 1930’s housing estate, in a small valley with mature beech woodland on the slopes around the houses. 
It ‘s on the edge of a large town in the Chilterns.
Badgers live in the woodland and visit our estate at night to find food.  (They have got MUCH more common locally in recent years.)

In the late spring each year we get an aerial overload of small green chafer beetles.  Thousands of them !
They land on our lawns to lay eggs in the grass and their larvae will later eat the roots of the grass.
So our lawns, which were grass and typical lawn flowers like Clover and Self Heal etc have slowly changed from grass to moss (with some residual grass). 
(The moss grows well because it is damp most winters, with the sun hiding behind the trees.)

Last autumn, and now again over recent weeks, badgers have been lifting the grass as though it is loose turf to get at the chafer grubs beneath.
And they leave it looking like a half-ploughed field, or a badly roughed-up piece of grass full of holes where they have dug out a grub.

Many of the house lawns gardens and verges on the estate have been attacked, with and significant area of ground involved.  So it is a real problem ... but could also be an opportunity !

Might you have any suggestion for BB-friendly flowering lawn-plants we could grow with deep roots that would survive chafer grubs nibbling, or even better, that would repel chafer grubs !
(And even better, that repel badgers !)

Or any other tips ?

Yours         Clive

PS.  I know that it is possible to get nematode treatments for chafer grub control, or systemic insecticide treatments probably Neonic type: but I don’t want to use or recommend Neonics; and Nematodes are probably going to be horribly expensive !

PPS   I could send a couple of pictures to show the type of damage if necessary.

     
Rank

Total Posts: 3

Joined 2013-04-05

PM

We want to plant up an area about 3x5m on our allotment (in a fenced off area between a greenhouse and our hens/ducks). Also in a side area about 25x1m, which used to be a path and is nettle filled.

The fenced off area had potatoes on it for a few years (to clear weeds), and looks nice and weed free now. Can I just go ahead and sow a meadow mix (and annual mix as we want things this year!), or is there more prep we should do first?

For the old path - are there meadow plants that I could use which would work with the nettles, as I would rather not get rid of them.

Also, we are in County Durham, but I can’t find any local wildflower seed suppliers. What would be the best kind of mix to get, or can you recommend a supplier?
If not how do I find out what local flowers there are that I could include in the plot?

Quite general questions I realise, but any help on any of them would be greatly appreciated!

     
Rank

Total Posts: 16

Joined 2013-01-30

PM

pollyphillips - 05 April 2013 01:17 PM

Hi Jo

Just how low does soil fertility need to be to get a perennial meadow going and why?  Is this to keep the grass and other thuggy “weeds” down such as nettle and dock?  Does the same apply to a cornfield/ wildflower annual patch with eg corn marigold, corn cockle, corn flower, poppies etc?  I would have thought they would resond to fertility as this would occur in a corn field eg with muck spread on it?

Grateful for clarification.  Many thanks.

Hi Polly,

You are right in that diverse grasslands are associated with soils of low fertility as they do not support competitive weeds and coarse grasses that dominate at the expense of wildflowers.  In conditions where nutrients are in short supply, opportunities arise for a wider range of specialist plant types, each species having its own strategy for survival.  Soil phosphorous (P) levels are considered to be the most important indicator of potential plant diversity, as phosphorus influences the plants ability to draw on other resources such as nitrogen.  In terms of species rich grassland creation a P index of 0 - 1 is ideal, 2 is marginal and 3 or above is unsuitable. However, while these principles are often used for conservation sites, in a garden situation you can get wildflower species mixes that will cope with higher fertility levels and include more robust species such as ox-eye daisy, knapweed, yarrow and buttercup.

Annual cornfield mixes can be sown on more fertile sites as they evolved in the cropped field area that would have been fertilised with muck etc as you pointed out. It is often recommended for areas to be sown with annual wildflower mixes that you apply fertiliser before sowing to aid establishment. Hope this helps !

 

     
Rank

Total Posts: 16

Joined 2013-01-30

PM

biffvernon - 05 April 2013 01:35 PM
Jo BBCT Conservation Officer South West - 05 April 2013 01:00 PM
biffvernon - 04 April 2013 10:08 AM

What should we do to protect the bees we attract to our wildflower patch from the neonicotinoids over the fence?
Biff Vernon, The Louth Festival of the Bees.

Hi Biff, there are a number of things farmers can do to minimise the impact of insecticides if they are using sprays -  such as not spraying on windy days, only spraying at night when insects won’t be flying and not spraying right up the field edges - so perhaps there is potential to talk to the landowner ?  If they are not sprays then really the best thing to do is to ensure your wildflower patch is thriving throughout the season and has the right kind of flowers in it for bees to attract them into your area rather than the adjacent fields. Oilseed rape for example is attractive to the short tongued bumbleebees so if you can provide the open flowers they like such as knapweed, scabious, mallow and bramble they will hopefully be tempted in.

Thanks
Jo

Thanks Jo.  So no point in asking the UK and German Governments to stop blocking the neonicotinoid ban in the light of today’s report from the Parliamentary Environment Audit Committee? http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/environmental-audit-committee/publications1/


Hi Biff, unfortunately I am just sticking to wildflower meadow questions today ! But BBCT’s latest position statement on neonicotinoid’s can be found here

http://bumblebeeconservation.org/news/position-statement-on-neonicotinoid-pesticides/

 

     
Rank

Total Posts: 16

Joined 2013-01-30

PM

Clive - 05 April 2013 01:42 PM

Hi Jo,

Good to meet you and to take part in this Forum session.
We have an unusual problem where I live-  but it maybe gives an opportunity to get some more BB flowers into our lawns and verges.

Let me explain ...
We live in a small 1930’s housing estate, in a small valley with mature beech woodland on the slopes around the houses. 
It ‘s on the edge of a large town in the Chilterns.
Badgers live in the woodland and visit our estate at night to find food.  (They have got MUCH more common locally in recent years.)

In the late spring each year we get an aerial overload of small green chafer beetles.  Thousands of them !
They land on our lawns to lay eggs in the grass and their larvae will later eat the roots of the grass.
So our lawns, which were grass and typical lawn flowers like Clover and Self Heal etc have slowly changed from grass to moss (with some residual grass). 
(The moss grows well because it is damp most winters, with the sun hiding behind the trees.)

Last autumn, and now again over recent weeks, badgers have been lifting the grass as though it is loose turf to get at the chafer grubs beneath.
And they leave it looking like a half-ploughed field, or a badly roughed-up piece of grass full of holes where they have dug out a grub.

Many of the house lawns gardens and verges on the estate have been attacked, with and significant area of ground involved.  So it is a real problem ... but could also be an opportunity !

Might you have any suggestion for BB-friendly flowering lawn-plants we could grow with deep roots that would survive chafer grubs nibbling, or even better, that would repel chafer grubs !
(And even better, that repel badgers !)

Or any other tips ?

Yours         Clive

PS.  I know that it is possible to get nematode treatments for chafer grub control, or systemic insecticide treatments probably Neonic type: but I don’t want to use or recommend Neonics; and Nematodes are probably going to be horribly expensive !

PPS   I could send a couple of pictures to show the type of damage if necessary.


Hi Clive, I have to say this is quite a tricky question and one I’d probably have to do a bit of research on to answer.  Plants such as birdsfoot trefoil, self heal, clover, buttercup and cowslip can all survive in lawns with more regular mowing and are all good for bees, but I don’t know if they would also survive the chafer grubs.  A few people have said to me about using electric fencing around the perimeter of their gardens to stop the badgers getting in which has worked, but this is obviously costly and time consuming. Can I have a think and get back you ?!  Thanks, Jo

     
Rank

Total Posts: 3

Joined 2012-11-29

PM

Jo BBCT Conservation Officer South West - 05 April 2013 01:56 PM
pollyphillips - 05 April 2013 01:17 PM

Hi Jo

Just how low does soil fertility need to be to get a perennial meadow going and why?  Is this to keep the grass and other thuggy “weeds” down such as nettle and dock?  Does the same apply to a cornfield/ wildflower annual patch with eg corn marigold, corn cockle, corn flower, poppies etc?  I would have thought they would resond to fertility as this would occur in a corn field eg with muck spread on it?

Grateful for clarification.  Many thanks.

Hi Polly,

You are right in that diverse grasslands are associated with soils of low fertility as they do not support competitive weeds and coarse grasses that dominate at the expense of wildflowers.  In conditions where nutrients are in short supply, opportunities arise for a wider range of specialist plant types, each species having its own strategy for survival.  Soil phosphorous (P) levels are considered to be the most important indicator of potential plant diversity, as phosphorus influences the plants ability to draw on other resources such as nitrogen.  In terms of species rich grassland creation a P index of 0 - 1 is ideal, 2 is marginal and 3 or above is unsuitable. However, while these principles are often used for conservation sites, in a garden situation you can get wildflower species mixes that will cope with higher fertility levels and include more robust species such as ox-eye daisy, knapweed, yarrow and buttercup.

Annual cornfield mixes can be sown on more fertile sites as they evolved in the cropped field area that would have been fertilised with muck etc as you pointed out. It is often recommended for areas to be sown with annual wildflower mixes that you apply fertiliser before sowing to aid establishment. Hope this helps !

 

Many thanks Jo.  That is very clear and very interesting indeed, and probably explains why oxeye daisy takes over in my garden if I let it!.  I will try and get a soil analysis done.

     
Rank

Total Posts: 16

Joined 2013-01-30

PM

cazery - 05 April 2013 01:51 PM

We want to plant up an area about 3x5m on our allotment (in a fenced off area between a greenhouse and our hens/ducks). Also in a side area about 25x1m, which used to be a path and is nettle filled.

The fenced off area had potatoes on it for a few years (to clear weeds), and looks nice and weed free now. Can I just go ahead and sow a meadow mix (and annual mix as we want things this year!), or is there more prep we should do first?

For the old path - are there meadow plants that I could use which would work with the nettles, as I would rather not get rid of them.

Also, we are in County Durham, but I can’t find any local wildflower seed suppliers. What would be the best kind of mix to get, or can you recommend a supplier?
If not how do I find out what local flowers there are that I could include in the plot?

Quite general questions I realise, but any help on any of them would be greatly appreciated!


Hello, I think it sounds as though the allotment bed is ready to go - you are aiming for a clean weed free, seed bed and you need a firm and fairly fine tilth.  So if is is still quite lumpy soil, stones etc I would give it a good dig over and rake.  Then sow the seeds ontop of the soil and gently tread in - remember not to bury them as they need light to germinate.  I sowed an annual wildflower mix on my allottment last year, which were cornfield species but also a little bit of borage and phacelia and it worked really well, the bumblebees loved it, maybe too much at the expense of them pollinating the runner beans ! Even though phacelia is a non native plant it is suitable to use in an urban setting.  If you are using an annual mix then most suppliers tend to include similar species - good ones for bumblebees are cornflower, poppy and corncockle.  Flora Locale has a list of suppliers on thier website so you might be able to find a local one there under ‘supplier directory’

http://www.floralocale.org/Homepage.

Good suppliers that will deliver include Emorsgate seeds and Habitat aid.

For the path, I’d be tempted to leave the nettles as they are if that is the habitat you want there. I think it might be quite tricky to get wildflowers to establish alongside them as the ground must be quite fertile. You might get something like comfrey to work as this is a big plant that will not be outcompeted by the nettles,  the bumblebees love it and also can use it to make fertliser for the allotment. Let me know if you have any more questions.