We’ve been mulling over what to do with the paddock and while we mulled, wild flowers started to grow. Wherever we ended up we’d always hoped to have a wild flower meadow so we decided not to mow the paddock and see what happened. Already we’ve had bluebells, birds-eyes, campions, wild primrose, herb robert and pignut – and around a dozen more flowers we’ve still to identify…
But as the flowers have grown the grass has grown too and now it’s taking over, along with the nettles and docks. A bit of research tells us that wild flower meadows come up in fields that are left to grow where animals have been grazing. We have rich soil here (you can tell by looking at it and lots of nettles are also a sign apparently) which is great for grass and veg’ but not so good for wild flowers. If we put animals in there they would take a lot of the nutrients out of the soil by eating the grass – and at the same time create a good bed for next year’s flowers by churning up the ground.
So animals sound like the answer. Oh if it was that simple. Much of the fence needs to be fixed and there are rhododendrons creeping over the sides which are poisonous to horses, sheep and cattle. As always here, nothing is ever straight forward. An alternative would be getting in a JCB to take off the top layer of soil in the paddock which is way out of our budget.
So if we want a meadow next year, we’ll have to fix the fence, prune the rhododendrons (which are running rampant everywhere but that’s a whole other story) and then find some animals before the end of summer. As there are other more pressing jobs to get done, it looks like our wild flower meadow is going to have to wait.