Charlotte Parton and David Jenkinson
The creation of a garden wildlife haven - a new wildflower meadow and nature pond, starting from scratch.
Four years ago we moved to an old farm in the middle of Broadhempston which is on about 7 acres, incorporating a walled garden, old cider apple orchards and a large field, traditionally grazed by sheep.
Around three years ago we decided to increase biodiversity on our land by creating a nature pond and a new wildflower meadow around it.
Whilst we had the diggers in to create the pond we had them scrape off all the grass and about a foot of topsoil off the area behind it (approx 1000m2) to impoverish it. We used the spare soil to level out a lumpy bumpy area elsewhere. We then raked it to a fine tilth into which we broadcast good quality English-grown seed from Emorsgate/ Wildseed in April 2017.
The pond is about 1.5m deep in the middle, with gently sloping edges for wildlife to get in and out. It is lined with a Bentotex 50 Geosynthetic Clay Liner.
In spring 2017 we sowed around the pond both a nurse-crop of Standard Cornfield annuals and a Special General Purpose Meadow perennial seed mix suitable to our soil type and area.
By early July 2017 we had a lovely display of cornfield annuals including corncockle, common poppy, corn chamomile, cornflowers and ox-eye daisies.
By mid-June 2018 the first perennial meadow was coming into its own and that year it was dominated by Wild Carrot.
This summer of 2019 we’ve had our biggest range of perennial wildflowers with plenty of Ragged Robin, Birdsfoot trefoil. Knapweed, Ox-eye daisies, Wild Carrot and much more.
Alongside the pond and new meadow is one of the old orchards which we decided to stop grazing and leave it to long grass. In a couple of years it already has wild geranium, field buttercups, sorrel and many different species of grasses and we hope that with the help of some yellow rattle seeded in small scarified areas through the orchard, the wildflowers will gradually spread across into it too increasing the wildflower meadow to an area of a couple of acres.
There has been a marked increase in biodiversity since we created both pond and meadow. There are loads of butterflies, moths, bees, hoverflies, damsels and dragonflies.
Amongst many other birds enjoying the pond, the swallows and martins love the clay mud around it for building their nests and we’ve had large ‘charms’ of goldfinches on the meadow seedheads.
It is truly a delight to sit between the pond and the meadow fully immersed in all the wildlife!
Other "Me and my Meadow" stories
How a grassy patch of lawn has been transformed into a bee haven.
Cami Rose and Jamie Perrelet's stewardship of The Meadow, a wild pollinator and honeybee sanctuary, on the Dartington Estate, Totnes.
Beetor Farm, North Bovey
The restoration of a species-rich down, which was cut for silage for many years on a working farm. In the last seven years it has been managed as a hay meadow with an ever-increasing abundance of naturally occurring flora, including three types of orchid.
Charlotte's managing her fields as hay meadows and is rewarded with orchids, sweet hay and a host of insects, moths and butterflies.