Wildflower seeding in Bingham Park/Whiteley Woods
Hello Conservation Volunteers
On Thursday 25th May we started a joint initiative with Sheffield Parks and Countryside to tackle one of the four FoPV nature related/environmental activities, to repair the degradation of the grass and wildflower areas in the valley starting with the main "drag" in Bingham Park/Whiteley Woods by the Motore coffee cart near Ibbotson Dam and also a second area further up the path. This was to be a trial to see how effective the action would be and how visitors react to it.
This additional work day was all hastily arranged with SP&C only two weeks prior, being the last chance to seed before the summer so there was always a chance things might not go quite to plan! In order to prevent stray feet (both human and dogs!) on newly seeded areas we needed to fence areas off and the decision was that wooden posts the same as those we had installed at Forge Dam would be used but this time white synthetic rope would be used instead of the jute rope which shrinks considerably when wet. Signage informing people of why and what we were doing, to encourage them to stay on the path and not trample over the grass and flowers were also required.
So, we were all set. SP&C would rotovate the two areas prior to the morning, order the posts and rope, and turn up with a truck of topsoil and tools to help. FoPV would order the special woodland meadow mixture seed as specified by SP&C as the mixture was tolerant to heavy shade, turn up with volunteers, aided by allotment friends of one of our members, Helena, who had also organised the design and printing of the signs, which were designed by her friend, Vicky Scott, a local artist and illustrator.
Come the morning, Darren from SP&C turned up with two colleagues complete with everything apart from the wooden posts. Unfortunately, the tight timescale resulted in the wooden posts not arriving in time. Not to be thwarted Darren had picked up some steel pins to use instead of the wooden posts. There was a bit of head scratching as to how we could fix the professional looking signs to the steel pins (cable ties were an option but not ideal) when one of those lightbulb moments struck us! For the Forge Dam fencing we had originally bought some posts which were deemed not suitable and had been left in our store but would be ideal for attaching the signs. Dave and myself shot off back to Forge Dam to collect the 8 posts and some additional bits and bobs.
In the meantime, the volunteers along with Darren and his colleagues had been preparing the ground, adding topsoil, raking, putting up the fencing and finally sowing seed. The volunteers were a little eager and dug over more than was initially intended (about twice the size of the second area!) resulting in not enough topsoil being available to cover this area - fortunately we just had enough steel pins plus a couple of the large wooden posts to fence it off. Initially, only two strands of rope were used but a third was added lower down to deter dogs running around on the seeded areas.
The allotment friends had brought several lengths of hosepipe which they connected back to a tap in the allotments to give a first watering to the seeds in the upper area - it saved having to lug buckets of water from the river as John was having to do on the patch by the coffee cart further down!
Funny how things work out though. The wooden posts for the signs were actually better, being taller and more substantial for attaching signs and instead of just putting them in the newly seeded areas, we put a couple up near the entrance to notify people as they enter the park. Something to think about for the next phase.
Finally, the two areas were completed, signs are up, and the only issue is keeping the seeds watered which Helena and her fellow allotment friends will continue to water over the summer. As of this evening, 5th June, it looks like some seedlings have started to grow, possibly grasses, mainly in the area nearest Shepherd Wheel.
Come the autumn we will review how effective it has all been, adjust and plan with a longer realistic timescale and also look at a different mix of seeds and wildflower plugs for variety.
We had interest from passers-by asking what we were doing and what was the mix of wildflowers being sown, but unfortunately, we didn't have the list with us, something else to remember for the future. For those who are interested, below is the mix of the grasses and seed.
Latin Name English Name Mix Composition
Agrimonia eupatoria Common Agrimony 5%
Alliaria petiolata Garlic Mustard 8%
Allium ursinum Ramsons/ Wild Garlic 3%
Angelica sylvestris Wild Angelica 5%
Campanula trachelium Nettle Leaved Bellflower 3%
Digitalis purpurea Wild Foxglove 5%
Filipendula ulmaria Meadowsweet 5%
Galium mollugo Hedge Bedstraw 5%
Geranium robertanianum Herb Robert 0.5%
Geum urbanum Wood Avens 7%
Hyacinthoides non-scripta English Bluebell 12%
Hypericum hirsutum Hairy St. John’s Wort 3%
Primula vulgaris Wild Primrose 1%
Prunella vulgaris Self Heal 8%
Silene dioica Red Campion 7.5%
Stachys officinalis Betony 5%
Stachys sylvatica Hedge Woundwort 8%
Teucrium scorodonia Wood Sage 5%
Torilis japonica Upright Hedge Parsley 4%
Latin Name English Name Mix Composition
Agrostis capillaris Common Bent 3%
Anthoxanthum odoratum (N) Sweet Vernal Grass 3%
Cynosurus cristatus Crested Dogstail 11%
Deschampsia cespitosa (N) Tufted Hairgrass 5%
Festuca Trachyphylla Hard Fescue 14%
Festuca rubra ssp. litoralis Slender Creeping Red Fescue 14%
Festuca rubra ssp. rubra Strong Creeping Red Fescue 14%
Poa nemoralis Wood Meadowgrass 22%
Poa pratensis Smooth Stalked Meadow Grass 14%
A Selection of photos from this special work morning
Preparing the ground
Seeded and roped off
Shoots starting to appear! (grasses?)