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Halford Flood Meadow Diary

2024

29 Apr 2024

Shake Rattle and Roll!

I have been patrolling the meadow for weeks now looking for signs of something other than grass and finally it looks like some of the seed mix we broadcast in September 2023 is coming through! Photographed is the first sign of yellow rattle which was in the mix and hasn't been seen in the meadow before. A group of five plants was spotted near to the spillway in the highest velocity overland flow area in the meadow! Considering the meadow has been inundated with water eleven times since sowing the seed it feels like a miracle has happened. So it seems rolling and treading in the seed has worked but will the meadow show the same signs in all the seeded areas? Watch this space.

by Mike Hopkins

17 Apr 2024

D'Arcy Spice and all things nice!

We managed to plant 26 heritage apple trees into two of the three planned orchard areas in the first few weeks of April. The rare apple tree species were supplied by the very knowledgeable and entertaining Andy Howard (pictured). Andy also came to the meadow to advise and demonstrate how to properly plant a fruit tree. Thanks also to family members and Alistair Elliot from the village for helping to plant the trees.

by Mike Hopkins

28 Mar 2024

Snake's-head fritillary pops up!

Last autumn we planted 100 snake's-head fritillary bulbs in 20 different areas of the meadow. We can report that some have flowered  in the last few days! This will give us an indication of where in the meadow they favour, so if we plant more bulbs in the future we can target these areas.

by Mike Hopkins

19 Mar 2024

Early spring shows positive signs.

Halford Flood Meadow has certainly played its part in flood alleviation this winter. The river has come over the lowered bank at the upstream end of the meadow eight times since October '23. It will be interesting to see what the river has brought with it - seeds, nutrients, undesirables - probably a combination of all of these. The three acres that were seeded with Emorsgate 08 seed mix is producing a good display of Lesser Celandine at the moment. This yellow early flowering perennial is new to the meadow this year and isn't in the Emorsgate mix. It is noticeably more dominant in the seeded area of the meadow than the non-seeded areas, this is possibly because of the scarifying in the autumn, opening up the soil to allow seeds to germinate that have been lying dormant in the seed bank for a number of years or have been dispersed via flooding from upstream sources. There are also seedlings emerging in the seeded area, at this stage it is difficult to tell exactly what they are, but the area is noticeably richer in species than any other part of the meadow - so very promising signs.

There have been four enquiries to purchase Biodiversity Net Gain units from the meadow and there are 24 units left to sell. These units can be sold to offset developments throughout England but are more financially viable for developments within the boundaries of Stratford District Council and Dunsmore and Feldon.

Will the seedlings that are emerging survive anymore flooding in the meadow? What are the seedlings? How much nutrient has the persistent winter flooding brought into the meadow? How quickly will the units sell? Whatever happens it will be interesting!

by Mike Hopkins

1 Feb 2024

BNG starts here.

After a further delay to the start of mandatory BNG for major developments we now have a start date of February 12th 2024 - just 11 days time from writing this news. It will be interesting to see how the system evolves as the market forms.

It has been a wet winter in Halford where the river has been out of bank and across the meadow four times so far. We have had some cold weather with it which should help vernalization of some of the seeds - if there are any left! Vernalization is needed in some species for the seed to geminate and then flower in the spring, the process happens when temperatures are between 1 and 7°C, so there has been plenty of that, certainly in January.

While we are playing the waiting game for spring and BNG, we decided to lay 60m of hedge that we planted six years ago. The hedge runs from halfway down Bell Hill, from the pub in Halford down the old Fosse Way to the river. The hedge laying style is Midland Bullock and creates a thicker hedge which is a better habitat for wildlife.

by Mike Hopkins