Saturday, 11 February 2012

St Andrews Community Orchard – Wildflower Meadow project

We hope to change if from this:

Where the grass is cut every two weeks and no wildflowers are able to compete against the more invasive grass. To something more like this:

An area where wildflowers will be established and the grassland will be mown once a year and the cuttings removed. We will use Yellow Rattle in our Organic conversion of this area into a Wildflower Meadow.

Yellow rattle is an attractive, semi-parasitic, grassland annual. In the past this plant was a serious pest for farmers as it weakens grasses and as a result can reduce hay yields by as much as 50%. In a landscape or garden context however, this suppression of grass growth is welcomed as it produces a better display of wild flowers and eases the mowing required.
Yellow rattle germinates late February to early March, flowers in June, and sets seed in July. At the end of each growing season as the annual yellow rattle plants die away they leave behind gaps into which new wild flowers can establish. As a result, wild flower seed sown into an existing sward will establish more readily in areas where yellow rattle already does well.

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