The Wildflower Meadow and Pond

Five metres deep and constructed by "puddling" the indigenous blue clay, the crater that existed post the departure of the 10 tonne digger in 2009 has now become a naturalised feature, frequented by a thriving population of frogs and newts, dragonflies and a family of moorhens. One of the great pleasures in summer is watching swallows and house martins skimming over the pond in search of food and one of the events of the summer is the mass migration of thousands of tiny frogs post tadpole transformation. The ducks we envisaged arriving have failed to materialise except on an occasional basis despite the fact that we provided fox-proof, floating accommodation in the shape of a duck house. It seems that, like horses, you can lead a duck to water but can't force it to drink.

Unlike the wild fowl, vegetation has not been shy in coming forward! The bare, post construction expanse of soil has attracted sedge grasses, willows, alders and a thriving collection of weeds (especially thistle) along with some wildflowers like ox eye daisies, buttercups and campion. And, more recently, we've had a couple of orchids, which hopefully will be the start of a burgeoning population. Meanwhile, the pond itself is home to an ever expanding covering of pond weed, whilst the bullrushes that we initially planted at the north end have spread inexorably around the banks on all sides. Seven years after creation, the naturalisation of the area had not only run its course but had begun to be out of control, so much so that we had to bring a 5 tonne digger in to remove 70% of the self sown trees, mainly willow, that had literally taken over the pond's sides; we were at the stage of almost being unable to see the pond itself.

As for the meadow, we largely left it to itself for the first few years and, for the most part, have found the dominant grasses to be attractive. Nonetheless, we are keen to introduce greater variety and, to this end, have attempted, with some success, to introduce yellow rattle to reduce the vigour of the grasses.The more success we have, the more we will try to introduce a varied collection of wild flowers. At the same time, we have had an annual programme of planting camassia and fritillaries at the garden end of the meadow with the intention of working the planting down towards the pond over the coming years.