An Insect Haven planted with Wildflower Turf

Yew View is a fantastic site for wildlife… but that has not just happened on its own… the owners  have worked hard to create a range of different habitats that have all contributed to the growing number of species recorded on the site.

One area that is always spectacular all through the summer, is their wildflower meadow. This area was planted some 6 years ago and is well established. Throughout late Spring through until Autumn, it was full of insects, including bees, flies, butterflies, moths, damselflies, crickets, grasshoppers, beetles and way too many species for me ever to attempt to identify! Such a wonderful selection if insects , of course, is a food source for other creatures and this area was literally always buzzing with life.

This year, we decided to create another area on the left hand side of the garden, to match the right hand meadow. There are two main ways to create a wild flower meadow; to seed or to turf. We decided to turf it as it is a quicker way to create the habitat and takes less time to become established. It is true that using wildflower turf is not a cheap option, but even a small area can make a big difference in a medium-sized garden, such as mine at home. What I have found is that in its third year, mine has really thickened out and I have transplanted another area, from this original one. I reckon a small area of wildflower turf could be used to quadruple the area through transplanting in just a few years…. so think long-term investment!

The area we were laying at Yew View was over 300 square metres. The old turf had been removed and the area dug over and smoothed a little. The good thing about this turf is that the area does not have to be mega smooth and it is very easy to lay.

We purchased our turf from Wildflowerturf.co.uk. They do a range of different turf, but we opted for the ‘landscape’ turf. This contains a range of native British species…

Grasses

Crested Dogstail (Cynosurus cristatus) Sheep’s Fescue (Festuca ovina)

Flora

Autumn Hawkbit (Scorzoneroides autumnalis) Betony (Stachys officinalis) Birdsfoot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus)
Bladder Campion (Silene vulgaris) Cats Ear (Hypochaeris radicata) Common Knapweed (Centaurea nigra)
Common Sorrel (Rumex acetosa) Common Vetch (Vicia sativa ssp. segetalis) Common Toadflax (Linaria vulgaris)
Cowslip (Primula veris) Field Scabious (Knautia arvensis) Greater Hawkbit (Leontodon hispidus)
Lady’s Bedstraw (Galium verum) Meadow Buttercup (Ranunculus acris) Meadow Cranesbill (Geranium pratense)
Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) Musk Mallow (Malva moschata) Ox Eye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare)
Perforate St Johns Wort (Hypericum perforatum) Ragged Robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi) Red Campion (Silene dioica)
Ribwort Plantain (Plantago lanceolata) Salad Burnet (Sanguisorba minor) Self-heal (Prunella vulgaris)
Tufted Vetch (Vicia cracca) Wild Carrot (Daucus carota) Wild Marjoram (Origanum vulgare)
Wild Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) White Campion (Silene latifolia) Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Yellow Rattle (Rhinanthus minor)

Our turf arrived on three huge pallets. With David and Tom & Pete, who also work on site, we loaded it into the trailer and sit-on mower and transported it to location. Thank goodness we had that… the turf is heavy and it would have been several hundred trips with the wheelbarrow!

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We positioned it all on the bottom of the slope ready for start in the morning.

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Three three of us carried the turf into place and then I started laying it, as the other rolls were positioned. Provided the area has been prepared, it is a matter of rolling it out  and then pressing it down firmly to ensure there are no air pockets under the roots. The seams can be pressed together and the turf is easy cut to fit around trees and rocks, in my case!

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With the turf in place, ready for me, it took the day to lay it all, ensuring the whole area was neatly covered with no gaps anywhere! The secret is then in the watering! It is essential that the turf is well watered in its first month or so, so the roots become established. It will continue to need watering during any dry patches so bear that in mind if you are thinking of investing.

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You can see all the photos from the day on our Flickr album. I will, of course, be photographing this area all through the season so you can see how it transforms.

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Regarding other activity on site; We have blue tits and great tits nesting in a lot of the nest boxes all around the garden. The Jackdaws have moved into the Tawny Box, but have not brought lots of sticks in, as mine have done, so we have some nice views of them inside. They have just started laying.Vivotek Tawny 2016-04-20 05-49-11.890 Vivotek Tawny 2016-04-20 05-50-00.710 Vivotek Tawny 2016-04-20 05-50-36.401

We seem to have two female kingfishers visiting at the moment and a rather handsome male in stunning plumage!

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The badgers are still very active in and out of the original sett and still visiting the new camera sett. This individual came very close to the camera this week!

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I was also pleased to see that we have a vixen feeding cubs somewhere. This vixen is blind in one eye. I have not seen her at the feeding station for a while, but when she came this week, she was clearly lactating…

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We just need some warm weather now and the whole site, including our lovely new meadow, should soon be bursting into life. It won’t be long before the whole area is buzzing with insect and invertebrate action!