Well, we had planned to collect seeds today, but as it is pouring with rain we will postpone it to Friday 2pm. So, I have some time to add some photos of how the primary school field has been doing since mowing stopped this spring.
This is how it has looked every summer for at least the past 15 years:
Not terribly interesting or attractive for bees, hoverflies and butterflies – or for children either.
But this year, in the area that has been left unmown, just look at all these flowers! You can see Red Clover, Bird’s-foot Trefoil (yellow) and Hoary Plantain (the white fluffy one – a ‘Warwickshire Notable’ species that is not too common in the county), and a range of grasses.
The next shot shows a big patch of Ox-eye Daisies (also called Dog Daisies) amongst lots of Bird’s-foot Trefoil.
You can just about make out the old ‘ridge and furrow’ pattern in the next picture, which shows that the field was farmed in strips many, many years ago (they go from top left to lower right across this picture). The plants growing on the ridges are quite different from those in the furrows, because the soil drainage is different.
A stunning freshly opened Poppy flower.
Not so eye-catching, but another ‘Warwickshire Notable’, Field Madder Sherardia arvensis. The pale pink flowers are tiny, only a millimeter or two across.
Close-up view of bright yellow Bird’s-foot Trefoil, Lotus corniculatus, in the pea family.
Hoary Plantain, Plantago media grows on soil high in lime, and unlike other plantain flowers, it is pollinated by insects. Some flowers are purple or pink, but occasionally they are pure white. They look rather like candles lighting up the field.
Helen’s Place, Kineton Playgroup’s building, also has a patch that was left unmown this year, and it has flowered well, attracting lots of attention. The flowers are not so obvious in this picture, but you can see the notice, put in to explain why the grass hadn’t been cut. It was lovely to hear how many people appreciated seeing the long grasses and flowers.
This is White Clover Trifolium repens, with round white heads and three-part leaves.
Here is a closer view of the little yellow flowers of Black Medick, Medicago lupulina, which is a close relative of the much larger Red and White Clovers. (There are also several other small yellow clover-like flowers – Black Medick can be recognised by the tiny point on the ends of each leaflet, but they aren’t easy to see. Later in the season it is easier to tell apart as the fruits are black – hence the name Black Medick.)
Two of the children at the After School Club have achieved their Blue Peter Green badges
by taking photographs and writing a diary about the progress of the plants through the spring – congratulations to them! Maybe they will be famous naturalists when they grow up?
Most adults who are keen wildlife observers remember how they became enthusiastic about nature when they were young, so it is lovely to have the opportunity to give children the chance to see wild flowers, bees, butterflies and other flora and fauna, and to begin caring about them.
So our school field project is achieving two successes – firstly for the wildlife actually living on the field, and secondly by having an impact on how children (and adults) feel about wildlife more generally. Something to feel very positive about!
Click here for our flower gallery from the school field (work in progress).