This year the BVC Trust began a major project to improve the understory of our woodlands across the valley.
As they are, the floor of our woodlands is mostly comprised of bramble and nettles due to a lack of connectivity with other sites. Wildflowers are less likely to be able to spread naturally if there are no wildflower rich areas next door. In the past, well-meaning people have tried to improve the view by planting non-native species such as Daffodils and Spanish Bluebells. Unfortunately, Spanish Bluebells hybridise with British Bluebells until eventually there are no native plants left.
To tackle these issues, improve the aesthetics of the woodland for users, and boost the local food sources for bees and butterflies, we have been sowing wildflower seeds. The seeds we planted were all native and suitable for the type of woodland we have. These included Bluebells, Red Campion, Lord’s and Ladies, Foxglove, Wood Avens and Primrose. Some of the Bluebell and Wood Avens seeds had been collected by the Southwood Woodland volunteer group back in July.
We began on the Wellesley Woodland site Puckridge. First, volunteers cut back invasive, non-native Laurel and thinned tree saplings to create the right amount of light to reach the woodland floor. Next, the volunteers mixed seeds with sawdust so we could see where we had sown. The ground was then prepared by raking back the fallen leaves. The seeds were scattered on the raked patch. Finally, a layer of leaf litter was sprinkled on top to provide a compost and warmth.
It was a satisfying task and certainly something different for the volunteers who I’m sure will be glad to see the plants growing over the coming years.
With the Autumn nearly over we are now finished seed sowing. Altogether this year we managed to improve the understory of 5 local woodlands including (Wellesley Woodland) Rushmoor Bottom, Cove Brook woodland and Gerry’s Copse. Thank you very much to the Trust for their support and all the volunteers who attended the various tasks putting in the practical work.
Keep an eye out on our blog for updates on the progress and seed sowing adventures next year!
Acting Ranger Jenny