Blue Flower

On 18/8/21 we were awarded a Greening Our Communities grant by Norfolk Community Foundation to create a wildflower meadow with mown paths, insect hotels and a picnic bench. A wooden shed replaces the storage container for better views. We put up project notices so visitors can see what we are doing.

Fred took the digger and started the earthworks on the wasteland, there was lots of rubble in the soil so it was sifted using a riddling bucket, then spread out to give the landscape needed. We now have to remove any weeds that appear, then roll and harrow the ground ready to sow the seed in Autumn. 

Early finds in the soil were an iron hinge post, part of a control wheel, nuts and bolts, slate cylinders with cutouts, pieces of grindstone, a bone, the metal centre of a grinding wheel, a paddle, bearing race, glass bottle top, nails, metal strap and curved metal plate. Finds were put on illuminated shelves in a new section of the visitor centre. Ryan used the metal detector and found a large number of items which he put on one of the new shelves.

The project involves preserving features near the wildflower area, so the channel next to it was dug out and cleaned, exposing the channel walls and tunnel ends which were fenced off. A corner bracket from the nearby boiling house foundations was uncovered and a wooden surround and cover was made to display it with an explanation sign. The adjacent brick floor will be permanently covered with soil to protect from frost which breaks up the bricks, this is accepted practice and has been done on other areas. We may have glass panels showing the brick floor. Pictures of the exposed floor will be included in displays and slideshows.

We bought 6kg of seed including native wild flowers & grasses for the meadow, wildflower only seeds for a Cornfield flower area over the brick floor and for re-seeding next year, we also have Poppy seeds we saved and seeds donated by Eddie & Helen. Silver sand will be mixed with seeds as instructed. We'll sow in Autumn which benefits wildflowers including Yellow Rattle. When established we'll make signs about wildlife seen there, it should attract bees, butterflies, other insects and birds which feed on them.

The container used for restoration work in 2015 will be removed, as this project has replaced it with a shed attached to our Visitor Centre which is based on the original mill building, the shed is based on the building on the right with the slate roof. The attached shed will reduce the structures on site from 3 to 2, its environment friendly as the basesides and roof are made from re-used materials.

Items from the old store room in the visitor centre have been moved to the shed, so the room is now used for displaying items found when making the wildflower area on new illuminated shelves and a display screen for slideshows. Pictures of the work creating the wildflower area are also on show in there. 

We bought five insect hotels and made stands for them using an old trellis and bed frame, taken apart with our pallet breaking tool, ground stakes prevent them blowing over. The insect hotels are already in use by insects which have sealed off some of the cells. In May the picnic bench was taken and assembled. These items are all on our lawn now, but will be put in the wildflower area when its complete, we bought a strimmer for cutting around them, this was used to cut part of the overgrown Nar Valley Way.

The tipping trailer, roller and seed spreader were taken to site and assembled. Our mower is kept off site and taken to the mill when needed, we used it to tow the sweeper to the mill, its for collecting cuttings when flower seeds have dropped after mowing which reduces soil fertility to help wildflowers. We carried out repairs to the sweeper which is on loan. We tested all towed accessories and made a harrow from materials on site, this will prepare ground for sowing seeds and help germinate flowers each year, we tested it on the bare soil.

We buy responsibly and locally, wood for the shed was from Kings Lynn and Swaffham, wildflower seed from Boston, insect hotels from Great Yarmouth, the picnic bench was made in Wolverhampton. Ground stakes, pallet breaker, roller, strimmer and several other items are from Amazon Smile which supports wildlife charities.

Dennis gave us a tray of Lupin plants, although not wild flowers, they will attract bees. We can't plant them in the wildflower area yet, so we re-potted some and planted the rest near our wildlife habitat and along the low wall. We are keeping them all watered and weeded, several plants have flowered, we'll keep the seed pods.

The recent heatwave brought concerns about the need to water the wildflower area after sowing. September or October are the recommended sowing times which means we can wait until rain is more likely. My book on garden meadows says 'water lightly if no rain is forthcoming' and other advice says there's no need to water, but if we decide to, we can use a sprinkler or spraygun with the battery pump used to fill the water tank.

Graham Bartlett           Interactive Plan    Visitor Centre   Site Activity    Green Grant    Volunteer    Blog 20/8/21 

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 Blog 20/8/21