A Blackbird Sang - News — Tony Davis

RSS
'The Dene' Wildflower Meadow Restoration Project

'The Dene' Wildflower Meadow Restoration Project

We live and work in a cottage called 'Dene Edge' in Stonesfield, a village in West Oxfordshire, with the field behind our home and studio being called 'The Dene'. We have recently leased 'The Dene' from the Blenheim Estate for an initial period of 5 years with the aim of restoring the biodiversity of this 1.4 acres of grassland, to bring back the wild flowers, butterflies, bees and other invertebrates. Wild flower meadows are one of the rarest habitats in the UK and we have lost 97% of our wild flower meadows since the 1930s.

Landscape aerial image of 'The Dene'

Wild flowers grow best in low nutrient soil, so the initial aim is to reduce the enrichment of the soil through grazing in the winter/early spring, and taking a haycut and removing the hay in the summer, followed by aftermath grazing.

Image of sheep grazing Dene EdgeImage of sheep grazing Dene Edge

There may be seeds in the existing seedbank that will be allowed to flourish by reducing the vigorous grasses, cow parsley and nettles. Additional species will be brought in by using local green hay.

The bottom of the field is marshy and prone to flooding, so may support wetland species such as Bugle, Meadowsweet, Ragged Robin, Meadow Buttercup, Great Burnet and Devils Bit Scabious.

The drier sides of the valley could support some of the calcareous plants seen on Stonesfield Common SSSI such as Birdsfoot Trefoil, Knapweeds, Scabious, Quaking Grass, Wild Thyme, and Salad Burnet. Some unmown and ungrazed edges will be left around the field to provide good habitat for invertebrates, refuge for reptiles and amphibians, and scrub areas for nesting birds.

July 2022 Update:
After the initial grazing by some very lovely ewes and their cheeky lambs, the sheep have gone on their summer holiday and the field has been topped to help reduce the tussocks and increase the light and air available to all species. Whilst walking around the meadow, Genny has already noted Lady's Bed Straw, Birdsfoot Trefoil and Knapweed! We're hoping the sheep will be back in the autumn. Here's what the meadow looks like today (6th July 2022):
Image of a dry stone wall with a field behind

If you are interested in getting involved or would like to learn more, please contact wychwoodfloragroup@gmail.com. Follow our wildflower meadow restoration project updates here on the blog, or via our social media accounts on facebook, Instagram and twitter.

Genny

 

'The Longstock Way' Showcase Garden at BBC Gardeners' World Spring Fair

'The Longstock Way' Showcase Garden at BBC Gardeners' World Spring Fair

At the BBC Gardeners' World Spring Fair at Beaulieu in April we were delighted to collaborate with Shaun Beale, Nursery & Landscape Manager at Longstock Park Landscapes (part of the Waitrose & Partners Farm on the Leckford Estate), on 'The Longstock Way' Showcase Garden. Read more...
A Blackbird Sang artwork helping to raise awareness and funds for charities

A Blackbird Sang artwork helping to raise awareness and funds for charities

We are very proud to be raising awareness and funds for three charities via the display and sale of our artwork. 
Feeding the birds and the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch

Feeding the birds and the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch

It’s an important time of the year for feeding the birds, both in our gardens and further afield. Read more about Genny's work with The Farmland Bird Aid Network and how to take part in the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch.
RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2021: What a joyous event!

RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2021: What a joyous event!

We have just returned from a truly wonderful (and very tiring) RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2021. Postponed from May 2020, RHS Chelsea 2021 was a historic event: Held, for the first time in its 108-year history, in September. Despite the challenges this posed to designers and growers, the planting throughout the Show site was beautiful: a strong naturalistic planting theme with masses of perennials (definitely the year of the Echinacea!) and grasses.