The grass area to the SE of Crow Wood, including the Fife Council owned bank, were selected for a project to sow Scottish wildflower seeds to improve the appearance of this otherwise rather boring area of dense grasses, and tidy up an especially scruffy triangle of land at the junction of the Coastal Path and Lumsdaine Drive. Increasing the diversity of wildflowers would also significantly enhance the value of the area for wildlife.
The first area to be tackled was the scruffy triangle, and after clearing as much of the thistle, bramble and nettle as possible, and removing their roots, the area was sown with seeds from the BBC Countryfile “Grow Wild” initiative. Several of the DBCWG volunteers applied for packets of seed and these were pooled to provide the seed for the triangle. After preparation of the ground, seed was sown on 17th May by the children of the Woodland Explorers along with children of DBCWG volunteers and friends.
Next to be tackled was the much larger area of ground at the edge of Crow Wood. To reduce the vigour of the grasses the area to be sown was treated with glyphosate and the dead grasses were then raked off and removed. This area was sown with a range of different wildflower seed mixes from Scotia Seeds, all sourced in Scotland. All areas have perennial wildflowers and some have in addition some annuals such as Corn Marigold, Poppy and Cornflower to give some quick colour and a source of food for flower visiting insects. Areas nearest the wood have hedgerow mix which includes species that are tolerant of shade, while the main bank area has received a dry meadow mix. In addition to the seeds that were sown, cutting back on the grasses and scarifying the soil has resulted in the germination of other wildflowers that had been dormant in the soil seed bank.
The first seed sowing was by Dalgety Bay Brownies on 21st May followed by P2/3 of Dalgety Bay Primary School on 5 June. The remainder was sown by DBCWG volunteers on 12 & 15 June.
As well as plants growing from the seed that was sown, there were also some flowers generated from the seed bank of the disturbed soil. These had remained dormant under the dense grass cover
Clearing the Wildflower Area
At the end of each summer it is best to strim and clear away the growth of the year. That ensures that some of the nutrients are removed from the site, and also prevents the dead material matting together and smothering the new growth of next year. Done carefully it does not damage the biennials and perennials which have retreated to growth near the ground. After Peter Collins had strimmed the vegetation, Sunday 18th October saw a work party of 7 come out to clear away the cut material and make a final seed collection.
As well as clearing away the strimmed vegetation, Sunday saw the last seed collection of the year. Wild Carrot, which flowers later in the year than most others, had been included in the original Grow Wild seed mix sown in the triangle but, being a biennial, had not flowered until this year. The seed heads hold the seeds in their centres and, as they expand or contract with changes in moisture, release a few seeds at a time. These, with their tiny hooks may be dispersed by catching in the fur of passing animals, though they are very light and are also spread by the wind. Altogether we have now collected seed from 15 different species of the wild flowers that have grown in our patch and they are stored in paper envelopes in a fridge. Sowing these will enable us to expand the area with wild flowers in the coming year. Meanwhile, seed that has fallen naturally from our plants will ensure that the original area will also bloom again. To give an idea of seed shapes and sizes some are shown in the gallery below alongside a 1p coin.