Wooplaw, Scotland’s first community woodland, near Stow is going to have a wildflower meadow along with its many other attractions.
Those with scythes and the skills to work the blades are invited to help clear the area of about 1,600m2 at Gullet Wood on Sunday, September 28.
One of the organisers, longstanding Wooplaw volunteer Sandy Bruce, explained: “The area of ground (about 80m by 20m) beneath the power lines that run diagonally across Gullet Wood lends itself to a project of this nature because it will never, as long as there are power lines, be underplanted with trees.
“This part of Gullet Wood was planted about 25 years ago by volunteers, as part of the initial project, with native hardwood trees and some understory shrubs such as hazel, holly and juniper.
“Previous to this, it was probably used by the local farm as a stock field.
“The land slopes steeply down to the Allan Water and after initial clearance won’t have lent itself to regular ploughing, so it is unlikely to have been used for arable purposes and hopefully will have no residual fertiliser in the soil as a consequence.
“At present, this area has a rather nice diversity of wild flowers growing in the rank grass: Crosswort, Lady’s Beadstraw, Birdsfoot Trefoil and Common Knapweed grow at the top of the slope in the drier areas, and as you descend towards the burn and in damper areas, Meadowsweet and Marsh Woundwort become apparent.
“It is not short of diversity, but with some fine tuning it could be improved and this is the aim of the project.
“Managing a wildflower meadow is not a very ‘hands on’ process.
“It is important that the inherent fertility of the soil is reduced, thus inhibiting the growth of the grasses, which in their current rampant state are inhibiting the colonisation and spread of wild flowers and, as cutting and removing the grass is the simplest method of doing this, we have elected this as our chosen method of establishing the conditions for meadow.
“One of the few wildflowers I would like to see introduced to the area is Yellow Rattle.
“It is hemiparasitic, in that its roots penetrate the grass roots and remove nutrients, thus curbing the growth of the grasses farther.
“It is common practice when establishing a wild flower meadow to introduce this species for this reason.
“Using the fore-mentioned methods I would expect to see results in three or four years.
“It will take time to reduce the vitality of the grass and it is this that will determine the success of the project.
“If it is a success and we do establish a flower meadow, in summer it will be an experience for all the senses.
“Last year, I had the opportunity of standing in a wild flower meadow established by the National Trust for Scotland.
“Not only was it visually stunning, but it was literally buzzing with bees and hover flies, insects that at present are not doing particularly well in the wild so anything we can do to provide habitat for their benefit will only be to the good.”