It is one thing to dream – in the cold, soggy depths of winter – of sunshine, buzzing bees, fluttering butterflies and a wildflower meadow shimmering and swaying in the breeze. It is another thing putting this dream into practice.
There is a lot of effort put into creating a wildflower area. Well, there is if your garden is tightly packed with grasses, nettles and docks. If your area designated for beautiful flowers is anything like mine then all this has to be removed otherwise it will smother the flowers. The turf has to come up.
Initially I was going to dig up a much larger area. After sweating, spade in hand, for an hour or more in soggy clay soil, I decided to downscale by half. The digging gave me a reality check. Not only was this a large area to take on but this year is about creating a pilot area. I don’t want it to be too big, too overwhelming. I am a novice after all. Baby steps. So I am now creating two 3m x 3m sections. If successful then next year we’ll hire a turf striper and dig up a much larger area across the back of the meadow.
So yes. Lifting turf, moving turf, digging over the area, raking to a fine tilth. I’m not going to lie – it is hard work. I could’ve gone an easier route. Mowed the grass low, or used weed-killer, but I wanted to do it this way – the way almost guaranteed to get results. As in most things in life, the better you prepare the better the results will be.
There is also a real sense of achievement and satisfaction at digging up nine metres of clay turf. Yes, it wasn’t pretty, yes, my dad would have done it faster, but standing in the kitchen later, feeling my sore back, I felt rather proud of myself.
As well as digging this month I have also planted twenty-two willow tree saplings; ten common osier, ten scarlet and two grey willow. On top of this I’ve planted saplings of wild cherry, wild crab apple, bird cherry and plum cherry. My dream of blossom and wildflowers is on its way.
Then, just as my back thought it couldn’t take any more, my snowdrops and bluebells in the green arrived from Sarah Raven. I had less than an hour before leaving for the school run, but the excitement was too much. I had to do it now. I did as instructed and threw them so they scattered under our giant ash tree. And planted 100 bluebell bulbs in forty minutes.
I rushed off to school with mud in my nails, smudges on my face and clothes and a tingling in my fingers thanks to inadvertently touching a few nettles. My back was, by now, protesting loudly. But I didn’t care.
It felt good.
Thanks for reading,