It was a sunny afternoon on Sunday up on Brighton Greenway – unusual, particularly at the beginning of October. Usually we are up there under dreary skies. But it was perfect weather for our tasks: preparing 2m x 2m ‘example’ beds for wildflower seeding, sowing over 600 bulbs, doing a litter-pick and trying to bring the rampant vines on the west wall under a bit of control.
As John Patmore pointed out, sowing a wildflower meadow is NOT gardening and it’s worth remembering that Brighton Greenway is NOT a garden. Among other things, it’s actually a registered Local Wildlife Site and has been since 1992.
The northern section on the east side is the key area for encouraging wildlife. The grassy section here was originally planned as a wildflower meadow, but the grass has taken over. We hope to bring the native wildflowers back. To try this out, we needed to prepare the ground for seeding in our ‘example’ beds, roughing up the grass but not digging over completely. Wild flowers need to be tough; they should not be pampered, but they are easily overcome by grass. Below is the list of wildflower seeds we’ve sown and you can find here our detailed project plan, for which we’ve submitted a funding application to Brighton & Hove City Council.
- Corn cockle Agrostemma githago
- Scarlet pimpernel Anagallis arvensis
- Corn chamomile Anthemis arvensis
- Cornflower Centaurea cyanus
- Corn marigold Glebionis segetum
- Red poppy Papaver rhoeas
- White campion Silene latifolia
- Nightflowering catchfly Silene noctiflora
- Field pansy Viola arvensis
- Wild pansy Viola tricolor
Meanwhile, at the other more cultivated end of the Greenway, valiant souls were planting bulbs – lots of bulbs, quite a few of them native woodland varieties. They were collected by neighbours in ‘One Brighton’, a lovely initiative. The conventional wisdom is that handfuls of bulbs should be broadcast and then dug in where they land to avoid a regimented look. But then digging up turf – rather than soil – to plant the individual bulbs underneath takes time and effort. They are mainly planted around the trees and on the west side of the grass so that they are easy to mow around in the late spring. It’s important to not to cut foliage after flowering so the bulbs can replenish their nutrient store. The bulbs planted are:
- 60 wild daffodil
- 50 wild tulip
- 85 wild snowdrop
- 32 English Bluebell
- 20 Snakes head fritillary
- 20 wood anemone
- 142 mixed crocus
- 74 mixed allium
- 14 muscari
- 50 anemone de Caen
- 59 narcissus tete a tete
- 20 tulip queen of the night
- 20 tulip Yokohama
- 5 iris reticulata blue
- 5 Hyacinthus delft blue
The vines Vitis coignetiae (Crimson Glory vine) are rather attractive at the moment, growing up steel wires by the archways which used to be part of the Brighton locomotive works. The leaves will gradually start to turn rich shades of red. This variety of vine is very strong and very vigorous and it has started invading: smothering smaller shrubs and growing over balconies. Residents had cut back the vines, which had then fallen over the path. Some of the steel wires had broken. We cut back the really invasive stems crawling through shrubs and managed to bring the northernmost vines down below the balconies.