Wild flower meadow creation steps up a gear

10th August 2015

A project to create a wild flower meadow next to the South Downs Way at Itford Farm, East Sussex has this week stepped up a gear. Large machinery is now on site scraping off the top soil. Don't be alarmed, it's not a new building or car park, it's a new wildlife habitat in the making. The site is part of the new YHA South Downs hostel and was previously waste ground from the creation of the A26 bridleway bridge construction. SDW users were faced with a great bridge and a great trail but just a sea of nettles and thistles next to the trail. The site is in an important stepping stone location between more diverse wildlife sites, so the SDW team decided to attempt to create an better welcome for both humans and wildlife.

The site which is just under an acre, has been cut and sprayed several times already to reduce the dominance of the nettles. Now large machinery has moved in to scrape the top 6 inches of soil. This is to remove the dense network of nettle rhizomes. If we didn't do this, when it is seeded with wild flowers the nettles would out compete all the other plants. The site looks pretty barren and ugly now.  The area will now be left fallow for a year. The weeds will then be cut again before local wildflower seed is sown. It's a very long process, but the hard work now in preparing the site will payoff later.

Finally for all of you nettle and thistle lovers, don't worry. We have left plenty of nettles and thistles in the area and downwind from the main site, after all they are important food plants and nectar sources for many insect species. 

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Digger scrapping the topsoil of the new wildflower site. - SDNPA
The meadow creation site - SDNPA