Sunday, 20 July 2014

Sun, sea and stunning flowers!

Many were amazed at what came up naturally from the seed bank
 I quietly crept over the Hampshire border into Dorset with my Campaign for the Environment hat on this week, to help out with a farmland arable flower and bird meeting organised by the excellent Clare Buckerfield (you only need to talk to one or two of the farmers that she deals with to find out just how good she is at her job!) who works for South West FWAG.

The afternoon event was held at the wonderfully picturesque Manor Farm at Studland, which is a mixed farm of 900+ acres, tenanted from the National Trust by Steve Smith who is doing a fantastic job of farming profitably, but with the environment firmly included in the agenda.

Unfortunately one or two farmers cried off during the morning because they had to get the combines moving – winter barleys are ready to go in this part of the world and plenty has been taken off already. However, we still had a good mix of farmers coupled with advisers from a number of different organisations. 

We looked at flower rich margins and mixes planted specifically for corn bunting to nest and feed in, discussed hedgerow management and talked about the importance of rotations and weed control amongst many other things.

The highlight – not just for me I think – was standing in a field that had been cultivated in the spring and then left for arable flowers (not weeds – a weed is an unwanted plant in the wrong place – these we wanted!!) to thrive. And WOW had they thrived! What a wonderful sight with Poole harbour in the background!

Interestingly, the first question asked was when did you sow these flowers. Steve quickly answered that nothing at all had been sown and that this display had come from the natural seed bank in the soil. This amazed many, but not the farmers I hasten to add! Despite years and years of cropping and weedkillers, there still remains a vibrant community of wild arable annuals – including the beautiful Corn Marigold – the orange flower in the photo – which is one of the flowers that Clare had been targeting.

So after a fascinating walk around the farm, we adjourned back to the farm for tea and delicious jam and cream scones from the farm tea shop -

There are days when people say to me "you are so lucky to do the job you do", which grates a little when you are soaking wet, frozen and have only just started your day long mid winter visit. But on a day like this - who am I to argue!!  

How about this for a display!!

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