Wild poppies are blooming at Wheatland Farm’s eco lodges, and that seems an appropriate remembrance for DDay, 75 years ago.
These poppies are on our new wildflower area. We built a new patio by the Wheatland Farmhouse back in January, and instead of trucking away the soil we needed to move we used it to reform the ‘garden’. We say garden, but it was more of a bramble patch, and although those are valuable for wildlife, we have plenty and they’re expanding all the time. So we buried the top soil under low nutrient sub-soil from the patio dig, and then seeded it with wildflower seeds suitable for this part of Devon (and which are found on the best parts of Wheatland Farm).
And also some poppies! These are corn poppies, and although they are native wildflowers they’re not common in Devon because farming here tends to grow cows rather than corn (with the exception of thatching wheat). The poppies probably won’t thrive next year as they are annuals and need disturbed open soil – they are a temporary splash of colour. The other species will take a year to two to get established on the poor soil, but when they do they should hold their own against nettles thistles and other ‘weeds’ that prefer high-nutrient farmland.
We’ve used this technique before at Wheatland Farm – when we re-shaped the pond back in 2009. The subsoil bank there is now our richest wild flower area outside of Popehouse Moor SSSI. It needs very little maintenance and as well as flowers, it supports butterflies like the common blue, dingy skipper, small and large skippers etc.
So we’re anticipating that, unlike most development and building projects, the new patio will be not be just one more small erosion of natural-ness. Instead, it will ensure ‘no net loss’ to biodiversity at Wheatland Farm, and hopefully actually provide a ‘net gain’.
This time last year: The new labyrinth
This time in 2017: Toads to the pond