WILD FLOWER PROJECT: Planting
Several years ago the Friends of Manor Farm Park Association had received a donation from a similar organization that had been dissolved. Records show that the donation was to be used in any way the Management Committee wished, provided it furthered the "aims and objectives" of the Association, as laid down in the Constitution.
During the intervening years, the question of what to use this money for had been discussed by successive Committees with several ideas being put forward and considered; by far the most popular being the planting of wild flowers within the park; an idea which was even raised at an Annual General Meeting several years ago. Nevertheless, for various reasons, not least the lack of a concerted effort to research and price such a project, the donation has remained untouched in the Association bank account.
The question was raised again at a Committee Meeting in 2011 and as a result, the Secretary was asked to take a closer look at the feasibility of having wild flowers in the park. Some time later, having spoken at length, and often, with people knowledgable in these matters, such as the companies that supplied seeds and plugs, the Ranger Service & Parks Department and having also taken into account the high percentage of park users who would like to see a profusion of wild flowers in the Great Meadow, the Secretary submitted a report of his findings to Committee with a recommendation that they make the Wild Flower Project a reality.
As with all projects the current Committee undertakes, either alone or with the assistance of the Ranger Service and/or Parks Department and any other organizations, for example the Bournville Village Estates (see here), a lot of careful planning and forethought precede any action. So it was already February 2012 before a firm decision to go ahead was reached and this meant it would be unlikely that any flowers planted this year would actually bloom in the summer. Nevertheless, the decision not to mow 8,000 m2 of the meadow in 2012 having already been made by the Parks Department, as part of their effort to aid the dwindling population of pollinating insects in England, Committee decided to plant a small section (2.5%) of this area with wild flower plugs to see if we would be capable of carrying out a larger planting in the autumn.
Adam Noon from the Ranger Service, who had already agreed to show how the planting operation was carried out and had been a great help in choosing which species to plant, also suggested it might be a good idea to seek aid from local school children; he would be unavailable at weekends throughout March and getting sufficient adult volunteers mid-week might prove difficult. Any hope of blooms being seen this summer meant planting in March, so Committee Member Sarah O'Hanlon arranged a day out in the park for three groups of children from Northfield Manor Primary School on Monday 26th March. The Headmaster, staff and children are deserving of a huge vote of thanks, as is Sarah, for making this happen on such short notice; if we are fortunate enough to see blooms this summer, it will be because of their efforts.
Above: photographs of Bird's Foot Trefoil, Common Vetch, Lesser Hawkbit & St., John's Wort © Roger Gilbert~HowardianNLR
Of course, we have never had wild flowers blooming within the park since the days when the Great Meadow was just, well ....... a meadow. Until we do, it will not be possible to publish pictures of our own wild flowers here on the website.
As it is important that park users and site visitors are given an idea of what we are hoping to achieve with this Wildflower Project, I "surfed the 'net", as they say, and found a site with a selection of really wonderful photographs of wild flowers and some of the butterflies that also find them so attractive. With kind permission from the photographer, Roger Gilbert, I have been allowed to reproduce some of his work here and have chosen to show a few of the species already planted by the school children. I would encourage you to visit Roger's website to see what we are striving to create in the Great Meadow.
Ragged Robin© Roger Gilbert ~ HowardianLNR