Wow the last month has gone quickly! Before I knew it, we were loading the car up with fork, spade and gloves again. This time we were focusing on the Westwood Avenue part of Roman Road, a little further down the lane than the ST caterpillar hotspot.
We arrived just before 10am to find Perry and Tom from Dudley MBC had already made a start on the area. The plan? To remove turf from the patch of land by Romany Way and sow wildflower seeds, ready to flower in the Summer. Here’s the area ‘before’…
While Perry and Tom got the turf cutter in full swing, we tackled a pile of logs dumped along the path. While whoever had dumped them had left them in a ‘less than desirable’ spot and made a right mess while they were at it, they had also inadvertently created a ‘bug hotel’ for overwintering creatures. 10 minutes after we got started, Matt unearthed this beautiful Peacock butterfly, hibernating on and under logs. It was a first of the year for many of us and we carefully relocated the little beauty to a safer spot near the hedgerow.
Working amongst the branches had other perks too. Wendy spotted the first of the bluebells along the lane and the grape hyacinths are also pretty lovely.
Once the turf cutter had worked it’s magic, we got to rolling up the strips and removing, to leave the bare earth underneath exposed.
Along the way we found a few creepy crawlies, including a lovely millipede.
We were watched closely by chattering starlings, dogged by a robin who was a bit over-excited at the prospect of so many insects for lunch, cheered on by house sparrows, given fleeting glimpses of a heron and skylark flying overhead and given a farewell song by a mistle thrush.
Once the turf was gone, we raked over the soil, ready for wildflower seeding. Time for a coffee and cake break me thinks. Right on cue, Adrian turned up with flasks and cakes aplenty for the workers.
Perry and Tom brought with them 2 types of seed mix. The first to be scattered was specifically for pollinators, with flowers including knapweeds, lady’s bedstraw, field scabious, oxeye daisy, birdsfoot trefoil, wild marjoram, cowslip, meadow buttercup, yellow rattle and red campion (among others). We lined up and each sprinkled our share. River Dance has got competition.
Next up was a special cornfield mixture, including corn cockle, scarlet pimpernel, corn chamomile, thorow-wax, cornflower, corn marigold, common poppy, corn buttercup and night-flowering catchfly. I loved the look of this mixture, those fluffy tufts and insect egg-esque black bits. Magical!
So I got seeding too…
One last rake finished the job.
Now the only thing left to do is sit back and wait for the beautiful flowers to appear, making this a truly wild and wonderful patch for residents (human and otherwise)…. Oh! And the team photo! ‘V’ for victory!
L-R: Wendy, Steve, Perry, Joy, Steve, Iris, Patrick, Tom, Richard, Jenny (with Matt taking the photo).
Thanks for reading everybody. Stay tuned for information on our next work party and please get in touch if you’d like to know more.