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Wildflower planting

Helping Nature and Ourselves in the Wharf Stream Meadows


Neyotts Ford planting 2Neyotts Ford Flowering.
Photo Catriona Bass


It was another bright and sunny Nature Recovery Network (NRN) day when a crowd of 30 NRNers gathered for en masse wildflower planting and hedgerow mulching at the recently leased Wharf Stream meadows called 'The Neyotts' and 'Changeable Furlongs'.

Wheelbarrows were loaded up at Long Mead barn with planting tools and all the necessary mulching materials: mountains of cardboard and sheep wool kindly donated by Chris Strainge from Peashell Farm and the expedition trundled off past Siemens along the Wharf Stream. On reaching Changeable Furlongs, it was a wondrous sight to see the lines of native hedging whips that we’d planted in January, as far as the eye could see, still firmly in place and still thriving (i.e., not floating down the river despite the recent floods!) Not only had they survived a flooded meadow, but each whip was covered in buds and springing into leaf. 


Wool MulchingNew hedge mulched 'as far as the eye could see' with cardboard and sheeps' wool from Peashell Farm.
Photo Catriona Bass.


Happily, there is now an environmentally friendly way to control the weeds and pests, ensure moisture retention and regulate temperature which will ensure onward strong growth and guarantee our hedgerows will be teeming with life in just a few years.

NRNers shared stories of the diversity and amount of wildlife found in a strip of hedging; one study mentioned had counted 2070 species in an 85-metre stretch (and this was thought to be an underestimate as many taxonomic groups weren’t thoroughly sampled - cited in PTES, 2024). Over 500 plant species, 60 species of nesting bird, hundreds of invertebrates and almost all our native small mammals have been recorded as being supported by hedgerows. Watch this hedge space!


Neyotts Ford planting 3Spring planting for Summer pleasures.
Photo Catriona Bass.


While eager NRNers tirelessly transported and spread the wheelbarrow loads of mulching materials, other equally eager NRNers planted over three hundred wildflower plants. The plants should have gone out last autumn but early floods meant that they have been waiting impatiently on the potting benches under the watchful eyes of NRN’s Plant Propagation Group. A magical spot was chosen next to the ford in Neyotts Meadow – which turned out also to be a perfect place for a picnic lunch. Watch out, soon, for blooming Yellow flag irises, Purple and Yellow loosestrife, Meadow sweet, Dropwort, Devil’s-bit scabious, Narrow-leaved water dropwort and Ragged robin – all off them have been lovingly sown and nurtured by NRN’s Plant Propagation Group, as well as by our members at FarmAbility and Bridewell who are part of our extended network.


Finishing mulchingFarmAbility putting the finishing touches to the hedge-mulching.
Photo Catriona Bass


Those of us whose hands are now deeply sunk in propagating our rare local plants (some of which only exists on only a few other sites in the UK) understand, absolutely, how we are made joyful by our weekly encounter with nature alongside those of us with physical and mental health challenges. The day after this planting session, we all went off with our FarmAbility group to finish off the hedge-mulching. Three skylarks were singing on Changeable Furlongs, 10 snipe flew up from the wetland area in the further field and we found the first Lady’s smock blooming in the tangle of old meadow.

Nicola Davies


Our next meadow session is on 21st April when we will continue our preparations (before sowing them with wildflower seed from our ancient meadows in the summer). This will include sowing some of the rarer and slow-growing plants to grow by hand, potting on and pulling a few docks. We also hope show how we mean to go on by removing plastic guards from trees planted 20 years ago by another project, which are now strangling the trees and frittering plastic into the ground.

Here are some further NRN Meadow Days for your diaries (more details coming on the events page): 

25th May  - Sowing  seeds, potting on, thistles…

22nd June - Midsummer's Day in the Meadows 

17th Aug - Scything meadows, potting on

22th Sept - Potting on, planting  out

20th October - Planting out

23rd November - New hedges

12th January - New Hedges



Ready for pottingWildflowers awaiting willing hands to plant them out.
Photo Catriona Bass.