Last August, months of planning came to fruition, when we started to dig the new wildlife pond in the Upper Field at Yew View. When this field was purchased, it was just grazed grassland.
We were determined to see what we could do to improve it for wildlife as it is a lovely open and sunny site. A new pond seemed the most obvious place to start, along with a wild flower meadow and some tree planting as well. This, combined with strip mowing of the rest of the field, we would see what came up in the grassland and look to develop that further down the line.
The pond took about a week to dig, line and fill. ...
We decided to create a bit of a mound behind the pond, with the soil dug out and then we would plant this with a wild flower meadow turf. I chose two different turfs from Wildflower Lawns and Meadows .
I chose two types of turf. The main area is turfed with the 'grass free wildlife turf', grown without grasses for creating more of a ‘cottage garden’ look with 36 native wild flowers and up to 22 non-natives for extra strong colour. The species in this turf include: Autumn Hawkbit, Betony, Bird's-foot trefoil, Bladder Campion, Cat's-ear, Common Knapweed, Common Sorrel, siiCommon Toadflax, Common Vetch, Corncockle, Cornflower, Cowslip, Field Scabious, Lady's Bedstraw, Meadow Buttercup, Meadow Cranesbill, Meadowsweet, Musk Mallow, Oxeye Daisy, Perforate St John's Wort, Ragged Robin, Red CampionS, Red Poppy, Ribwort Plantain, Rough Hawkbit, Salad Burnet, Selfheal, Tufted Vetch, White Campion, White CloverT,Wild Carrot, Wild Marjoram, Wild Red Clover, Yarrow, Yellow Rattle. I also includes up to 22 naturalised species including the following Borage, Honesty, Sweet William, Horned Pansy, Feathered Pink, Garden Candytuft, Blue flax, Alpine Forget-me-not and Baby’s breathGypsophila .
The second turf, laid around the pond margins and around front edges was the 'floristic low flowering lawn'. We will mow this on different regimes to see how it affect the flowering of the species in this turf; Bird's-foot trefoil, Bulbous Buttercup, Common Knapweed, Cowslip, Creeping Buttercup, Greater Bird's-foot trefoil, Kidney Vetch, Lady's Bedstraw, Lawn Chamomile, Lawn Daisy, Meadow Vetchling, Oxeye Daisy, Ragged RobinS, Red Clover, Salad Burnet, Selheal, White Clover, Wild Thyme, Yarrow and a selection of grasses.
The turf was in beautiful condition and we laid it straight away... in the rain!
A gradual slope at one edge was covered in pebbles to create a beach-type area. Finishing the area by mid September, we had perfect wet and quite warm conditions allowing the turf to establish very quickly before the winter. This Autumn planting is great for a good Spring show as the plants establish themselves over the Autumn and then grow quickly once the weather warms up in spring. Adding some dead work for structure and for impact and adding some oxygenators to the pond, the area was pretty much left alone over winter and into Spring.
When I return now, less than a year since we created this habitat, I simply cannot believe the transformation. I have planned and executed quite a few wildlife-based projects, but this one has to be one of my favourites. When I stood there on a sunny morning a few weeks ago, I actually felt quite emotional. Seeing a project like this come to life, from sketches, research and ideas both in my head and on paper, is highly rewarding....
Already heaving with invertebrates, the meadow areas look amazing. Damselflies are flitting around the pond edges and newts, pond skaters, water boatmen and diving beetles have been seen in the water. The whole area looks like it has been here a lot longer than 10 months!
I am very looking forward to seeing how the area develops over the coming years and to monitor all the wildlife it can support.
This video below is thanks to Denis Stretton who visited with his drone and flew it over different parts of Yew View, with me attempting to control the camera, so I could have an aerial record of the site and some of the many wildlife projects here.