Rattling Molehills

30 Days Wild Days 3, 4 and 5

This blog title is designed to intrigue. It will all become clear, trust me. Just read on. If you can’t bear the suspense scroll to the bottom!

If you follow my Instagram you may have seen that on Sunday we were in York, and enjoyed a five minute communion with nature in the delightful York Museum Gardens, with take-out coffee, in our re-usable Keepcups. Now, I’m not on commission here and other brands are available but if sharing the link encourages someone to else to follow suit and ditch the single-use beverage cup then I shall be very happy.

Anyway, whilst enjoying my virtuous flat white I shot some quick snaps for the #YMTmemberscomp, a garden photo competition on their Instagram. You can see my efforts on Instagram so I won’t reproduce all of them here, just a couple. YMT is York Museums Trust, and they run two museums and a gallery in York, as well as the Museum Gardens.

Monday and Tuesday, (days 4 and 5 of #30DaysWild) have a theme in common of sowing wildflower seeds. A lift to Malton on Monday morning gave me 10 minutes spare while waiting for my bus. I remembered I had in my rucksack a packet of ‘Grow Wild’ wildflower seeds, leftover from last year and I found a rather unloved patch of bare ground near the railway station upon which to furtively scatter them. If they only give one season of blooms for pollinators that’s still groovy. There were some flowers on waste ground beside the platform already in bloom, including oxeye daisy and weld.

Tuesday began with a similar guerrilla-gardening vibe. After the school drop-off at breakfast club I again had a short while to wait until my regular Tuesday lift. We rendezvous outside the vets in the Stamford Bridge. Just across from the vets is a gate onto the riverside footpath, (actually it’s the Minster Way, a 50-mile walking route linking the Minsters of Beverley and York).

In Stamford Bridge the riverside has some floodplain grassland which this footpath passes across and it has been mown recently. With the recent rain I went in search of suitable damp bare soil on which to scatter my choice of seeds. There were some fresh molehills and these were perfect. This time I had with me some local provenance wildflower seed collected by myself a couple of seasons ago. (Is it still viable seed? I don’t know, but worth a try.) I had two species of seed, Greater Burnet, a classic component of lowland floodplain meadows and Yellow Rattle, a flower which assists botanical diversity in meadows by challenging the dominance of the grasses.  Now do you see where ‘Rattling Molehills’ comes from?

Yellow Rattle is hemi-parasitic on grass, meaning that it can take some of its nutrition directly from the roots of grasses and as such is a popular component of wildflower meadow enhancement mixes. It does need grass to be already established, but requires bare soil to germinate. It is probably better sown in autumn but I firmed it down in contact with the earth with my shoe and crossed my fingers. If I can help either of these species gain a foothold on the floodplain meadows now enclosed by the flood banks at Stamford Bridge I will be delighted.

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