Plug plants in the nursery ® Thornhayes nursery
Corncockle plants ® Thornhayes Nursery
County: West Yorkshire
Nearest town or settlement: Wakefield
Contact name: Roger Parkinson
Organisation: Tree Wardens Voluntary Group
Tel: 07973 421146
Wakefield Council, Featherstone Town Council, Street House Junior School, St Thomas Junior School Featherstone, Tree Warden Volunteers and staff from Barclays Bank.
Wakefield Tree Wardens Voluntary Group
Wild Flower Project Overview - Spring 2015
Over the last few years we have tried to make The Arboretum ground plant cover more diverse by adding British Native plant seeds. This has proved to bring very poor results so this year a different approach was taken. The main reason for the poor success rate was probably the high level of competing plant life, mainly grasses. Grasses had become dominant across the site due to repeated cutting of the ground cover over the summer which did not allow the flowers to be pollinated and stay in place long enough to make seed to regenerate. That cutting regime was removed two years ago being replaced by one cut in late August and during summer just cutting a network of paths throughout the site to allow access to the tree collection.
This year's project aims at increasing the rate of seed germination by cultivating them at Thornes Park Nursery to produce plug plants. Those plants will then be introduced to the target sites and planted in groups to improve the likelihood of pollination to produce seed.
In mid March the seeds were planted in plug plant trays within unheated greenhouses. We were able to plant 158 trays which hold 84 plug cells.
Germination rates were very good and after 4 weeks I would estimate that 70% of the plants were showing. The high rate of germination means that much thinning out is taking place to produce hundreds more strong plants.
On the 16th April the first 400 seedlings from our new stock were transplanted at the Arboretum, Newmillerdam with many hundreds more to follow over the next few weeks.
If all continues to go well the plant stock will include Dog Violet, Corncockle, Agrimony, Hedge Parsley, Greater Stitchwort, Enchanters Nightshade, Germander Speedwell, Oxlip, Hedge Garlic, Primrose Daisy, Foxglove, Betony, British Bluebell, Hedge Woundwort, Hedgerow Cranesbill, Lady's Bedstraw, Meadow Vetchling, Purple Toadflax, Ragged Robin, Thrift, Wood Cranesbill, Wood Forget Me Not, Yellow Rattle, Yellow Toadflax.
The sites that this year's project will benefit include The Arboretum and woodland at Newmillerdam, Millpond Meadows WW1 Centenary Project and a wild flower area next to the new path in Thornes Park. If, after this, there is any excess it will be used at Streethouse and Walton.
Normanton Common reception class have planted seeds which are now being cared for within the project to be returned to school in May to create a Wild Flower feature.
The project has been funded by The Tree Wardens Voluntary Group, Featherstone Town Council and supported by Wakefield Council Street Scene and Groundwork.
If successful this year we then hope to extend this project in Spring 2016 so that other groups can provide seed which will benefit their own project sites across the district. The project is open to visitors as part of our St Georges Day open day in Thornes Park Nursery and 5 junior school classes have arranged to attend.
16th April 2015
Wild Flower Project - Final Report 27th May 2015
The project has proved to be a great success with seven thousand wild flower plug plants produced for public sites in the district.
The breakdown of where they went :
- Newmillerdam Arboretum,3300 plants. Planted by Tree Wardens and staff from Barclays Bank.
- Newmillerdam Woodland and alongside newly refurbished footpaths, 550 plants.
- Featherstone WW1 Memorial Woodland, Millpond Meadows, 1600 plants. Planted by children from Streethouse Juniors, St Thomas Junior School, Local Councillors and Tree Warden.
- Streethouse next to the War Memorial, 300 plants. Planted by children from Streethouse Junior School and Tree Warden.
Secret Garden, Thornes Park, 400 plants. Planted by volunteers from the Friends Group.
- Donated to Wakefield Methodist School Wildlife Garden, 200 plants. Planted by the children.
- Donated to Andrew McGuinness, Countryside Ranger, 450 plants. For use in the Walton area to be planted by the community and young offenders.
- Donated to the Garden Shop in Thornes Park Nursery, 250 plants. To raise funds for the site.
With an outlay of less than £300 stock has been produced to an estimated value of more than £4000 ( using internet prices from stockists, not including delivery ).
The Normanton Common School plants were returned to the Reception Class children and they planted them into containers for the school grounds for the children to care for and study.
April 2016 report
Last year we grew over 7000 wild flower plug plants which were used to enhance a number of sites across the Wakefield District. (Last year's report above).
The locations included enhancing new tree planted sites, a city park, the Arboretum at Newmillerdam Country Park and small areas of waste ground.
Schools were involved and after a talk in school about wild life habitats and how trees and plants are a valuable part of the natural food chain the children then were able to plant small trees and wild flower plug plants. We already have a community tree nursery which provides trees, free of charge to improve
public green spaces and hedgerows.
Having the ability to enhance project sites with native wild flowers at greatly reduced cost is a tremendous addition to our group activities. Tree planting projects are planned during late summer, planted in autumn and winter with the wild flower additions ready in spring and early summer.
In previous years we have purchased expensive wild flower seed and planted it
directly on prepared areas of a site and had little success.
After doing research it was thought we could get better returns on the investment by growing the wild flowers as plug plants. Planting the young plug plants as groups of the same type, increases the chance of pollination. This
gives them a flying start and they more able to compete with the surrounding
ground cover with the hope being that they become established into their next generation. We are already finding that we are getting much better results with far more plants visible into the following year.
Building on last year’s experience, this year we made a good start at increasing the number of plants even further and starting the seeds
in containers in late January. Seed planting continues through to April.
The unused Parks Department greenhouses at Thornes Park were again made available by Wakefield Council Streetscene Department.
The team restored greenhouses, repaired more benches and made several heated beds with covers to help trigger germination and sustain the seedlings during
the cold periods and it worked. Using this facility put us some weeks in front and has extended the growing season allowing a greater number of plants to be produced.
On Tuesday 5th April the first batch of approx 1000 plants (Corncockle, Teasel and Foxglove) were planted by volunteers at the Arboretum, Newmillerdam Country Park. The Ranger assisted with transport and seven adult volunteers and three children planted them all in just over one hour.
This year’s project has been organised by The Tree Wardens Voluntary Group. We were fortunate that a second Community Group, The Friends of Newmillerdam Country Park assisted with funding some of the compost and seed as they had pre-ordered plants to help restore their woodlands after the removal of invasive rhododendron.
44 different wild flowers are being grown at the nursery and they will be made available to the wider community at a quarter of the usual retail price this will help fund and expand the project in 2017. The seed types needed were identified after consultation with Wakefield Council's Biodiversity Officer and Rangers for specific locations and then purchased by us from British Wild Flower Plants in individually identified packets. This means that we can be
specific about which plants go where.
We have also just received a good number of mixed wild flower seeds from Grow Wild (Kew). These will be used in various ways to help local schools create successful projects for their own sites while learning why these plants are needed. Some will be sown in the nursery by adults who have special learning needs and by visiting school children so that the plants can be given away to improve school grounds and community green spaces. Some will be given away as seeds to groups who have their own community projects who can then be supported with advice on how to get best results. (See photo)
The added value from this project
One of our regular project partners is Wakefield Council's Day Opportunities Team based at Thornes Park. This year to run alongside the Wild Flower Project we are growing thousands of garden flower and vegetable plants and supporting the establishment of a Plant Nursery Shop at Thornes Park. This is being run
by, and in aid of, the adult service users who have special learning needs. Funds raised from the sale of these plants will support their future activities
and sustain the nursery into next year, much of this work goes on to improve parks and green spaces in the district.
We have been able to establish this partnership project through the goodwill of the community, without grant support and we hope to build on this. New partners and volunteers are always welcome. We hope they can help us to further improve the site and build on its growing reputation for promoting sustainable activities. We would like to carry out further restoration of the existing greenhouses to be able to put them all back into use. The south facing position and large roof area would make an ideal location to add solar energy systems providing important income. The role for community engagement and education is well recognised. A few school visits are already underway and the hope is to extend this facility. Visiting groups learn how plants are grown, taking part in seed planting to provide plants for their own schools with the plants being cared for by us for several weeks to be then transplanted by the children at their own sites.
There is an opportunity for visitors to :
- Meet Day Opportunities service users and learning what they do in the nursery
- See how we gather rainwater to sustain our stock
- Learn about the history of the walled gardens and what they provided
Looking further into the future the one very large heated conservatory would be ideal to develop as a butterfly house helping to improve the location as a public visitor attraction.