Castle Meadow Project
A Rutland Home Education Group community project
Wildflowers in November? It did seem a bit early, a bit cold and wintery to be thinking about wildflowers in November. However, that is when planning started for the Castle Meadow Project. Would it be possible to transform part of the Oakham Castle mote wall into an English wildflower meadow?
“Dear Oakham Castle.” Yes! They were keen on the idea and quickly gained the permissions needed to dig and plant a section of the Castle grounds. Further more, they offered to sort out tools for the project.
“Dear local Home Education community.” Yes! There was a good response from the local community to get involved in such a long and interesting project that promised many educational opportunities.
“Dear Grow Wild.” Yes! The application for seed kits from Kew Royal Botanical Gardens for a community project was successful.
With permission, seeds, and a great team of people an itinerary was drawn up and the digging began one morning in March.
The next five weeks were all about digging. We needed to remove the grass already growing on our selected area before planting the wildflower meadow seeds. A total of 16 school age children, 8 adults and 3 toddlers all pitched in to help. While digging was the main mission many other great things happened like investigating insects and worms, wheelbarrow rides, and time to talk. laugh and play together. Everyone brought something to the digging, whether it was extra tools, delicious
cakes, flasks of tea, digging tips, plant identification - every pair of hands big or small made the time together a true community building project.
The Grow Wild seed packs arrived and we counted 30 different types of seed, which we would be planting on our prepared area. They were Betony, Bird’s Foot Trefoil, Bladder Campion, Common Knapweed, Corn Chamomile, Corn Marigold, Corncockle, Cowslip, Crested Dog’s-Tail, Foxglove, Garlic Mustard, Great Mullein, Hedge Bedstraw, Lady’s Bedstraw, Musk Mallow, Musk Mallow, Nettle-Leaved Bellflower, Oxeye Daisy, Perforate St John’s Wort, Quaking Grass, Ragged Robin, Red Campion, Salad Barnet, Selfheal, Upright Hedge-Parsley, White Clover, Wild Basil, Wild Carrot, Wild Marjoram, Yarrow.
With such a large area of dirt appearing on the side of the mote wall, the idea came to make some posters. An afternoon around a kitchen table produced four posters to let passersby know the area was slowly on its way to becoming a wildflower meadow.
One wet Friday several people braved the rain to broadcast the seed. The seed was mixed with sand and handed out in cups to spread over the ready area. The sand meant we could see where the seed had fallen and helped us see when we had covered the whole area.
For the next few weeks, we waited, the seeds needed to germinate. Finally, in June, there were enough leaves to see that some of the seeds had been successful, as well as other plants growing we had not planted. In late June the Oxeye Daisies started to flower. Already the meadow is attracting butterflies, caterpillars, and many other insects appear for the patient observer.
There has been a lot of hot sunshine and not much rain, so we are currently caring for the wildflower plants by watering them and making sure other plants won’t take over and inhibit their growth. This is just the start to helping the meadow get up and running before it will be able to take care of itself.
While the project continues, to this point a great deal has been learned by everyone who has put time and effort in - and we are delighted to see all the benefits that one wildflower meadow can deliver.