Wildflower Meadow, Several members of FoStAP have been investigating the possibility of a wildflower meadow in the park. Discussions with the Chris Hammond, Senior Community Park Manager of Bristol Parks, have gone well, and a proposal has been received, which was discussed at the recent (24.11.08) wildlife group meeting. Relevant issues were raised and recorded in the group’s minutes (see forum). This blog outlines the work which would be done if the project is acceptable to other park users.
This is the proposed area. Please let us have your comments on this proposal.

Bristol City Council, through Chris Hammond, will be financing the initiative, at a cost of between £1500 and £1800. Simon and Marjo are liaising with BCC on this project. We think the work could be done in the spring, 2009. Two areas have been proposed, one either side of the path leading from the lower Melita Road gate. The proposal includes some mowed paths around and through the meadow so it can be enjoyed. These areas are currently grassed with durable ‘amenity’ grass, and it is necessary to remove all traces of this if the meadow flowers are to have a chance of success. The existing turf would be removed to a depth of approximately 10 cm (4 inches) and the area treated with glyphosate to remove all traces of remaining competitive plants. Glyphosate decays quickly on contact with soil, and is considered safe to use in this context. After treatment the area would be sown with a basic wildflower seed mix which is 80% meadow grasses plus native flowers such as Birdsfoot Trefoil, Field Scabious, Lady's Bedstraw and Oxeye Daisy. FoStAP practical involvement will start with the sowing of the seed mix. It is hoped that this will take place in late March after the two applications of Glyphosate. Some plants take longer than others to develop, so it will take about three years for the meadow to approach maturity. Therefore, for some time the prepared area will be ‘work in progress’ and may appear muddy and unattractive. ‘Natural’ habitat cannot be created instantly! During the work we hope to provide notices of the process and the time scale so that park users know what is happening. Simon and Marjo

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Comment by Simon Randolph on December 2, 2008 at 15:40
The hedge on the left of the photo (planted well over 10 years ago by a previous incarnation of the Wildlife Group) contains a mixture of native species only. While it is a well established hedge, it has always been maintained by a cutting regime which the Council terms an 'amenity' cut. i.e. a rather drastic, very short 'back and sides' trim. This has kept it tidy over the years but has resulted in producing habitat that is not conducive to the encouragement of wild life. Thus, for example, tree and shrub flowers and their subsequent fruits and seeds have been largely prevented from developing, and the homogeneous structure so created has undoubtedly limited the number of invertebrate species that might be attracted to the hedge for egg laying, feeding and hibernation sites. Potential nest sites for birds (and their insect and seed food) have also been seriously reduced by this draconian cutting regime.

The Wildlife Group is in discussion with Chris Hammond of Bristol City Council to change the cutting regime to a so called 'wildlife' cut which will create a more variable hedge structure, in terms of height, thickness (and also age if only half the length of the hedge is cut at any one time). We hope this more heterogeneous and complex structure will attract and encourage a wider range of invertebrate and bird species to exploit the hedge and thereby increase its biodiversity.

The development of a wildflower meadow immediately alongside this more 'natural' hedge will result in an interesting juxtaposition of habitats that may well encourage even more species, i.e. those that require elements of both habitats for their survival.
Comment by John Mayne on December 2, 2008 at 14:55
Well done, Marjo, Simon and Jo - it looks as if we are making a start in the right direction!
John M

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