Now summer is here, I want you to get out and enjoy the flowers. There are summer flowers a-plenty in and around our parish, and the bees and butterflies are making the most of them. The insects are spoilt for choice as we have new flower meadows in Blue Mountain and Amen Corner North as well as existing ones in Popes Meadow, Peacock Meadow and Garth Meadow. Some of our local farmers are planting pollinator strips alongside their crops (one of my favourites is just outside the parish between Billingbear Park and the M4). Bracknell Forest Council have also left some roundabouts and verges uncut to encourage the growth of plants that our insects love. One example is the underpasses near The Old Manor where orchids grow.
As I write this, we have poppies, ox-eye daisies, cornflowers and ragged robin (one of the Bracknell Forest biodiversity action plan species) in flower. In all of the time that I have lived in the village I can’t remember seeing as many wildflowers. Unfortunately, this is a limited local highlight in a sad story of decline. According to the National Trust we have lost 97% of our meadows since the 1930s. The National Trust are currently looking for ways to increase the biodiversity on their land including planting new meadows. Greys Court (near Henley), The Vyne (near Basingstoke) and Cliveden (near Maidenhead) are all worth visiting to see their meadows.
Compared to this, our efforts to make a wildflower area in Wicks Green seem a bit pathetic, but hopefully every little helps. All of these new “meadows” face a similar challenge. The flora that is characteristic of a traditional English meadow thrives in unimproved soil. Unfortunately a lot of the land that is being turned back into meadows has previously been farmland (or a golf course) and hence has residues of fertilizer, pesticide and in some cases herbicide. This means that some plants (e.g. grasses and nettles) tend to do better than others. At Wicks Green and Blue Mountain, a native plant, called yellow rattle, has been planted to remove some of the fertility from the soil and to out-compete the grasses. At Wicks Green we are going to let the yellow rattle do its stuff this year and monitor what else grows before deciding what else to plant.
One final recommendation for a summer day out is a trip to BBOWT’s College Lake near Tring. This former chalk pit has extensive areas where wildflowers are being encouraged as well as lots of information, things for kids to do, and a cafe with a view.
A longer post inspired by this one can be found on the author's personal blog -https://ecoworrier133969581.wordpress.com/2019/07/07/how-can-nature-be-in-trouble-when-there-are-flowers-all-over-the-place/
Binfield Environment Group’s next events are a Wicks Green work-party on Saturday 13th July and bird and bat box building at Foxes’ Den on Saturday 21st September. We can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook.