Blue Flower

On 18 August 2021 we were awarded a Greening Our Communities grant by Norfolk Community Foundation to create a wildflower meadow on a wasteland area. There will be mown paths through the meadow with entrances in various places. There will also be insect hotels and a picnic bench. A wooden shed will replace the storage container to give a better view of the wildflower meadow. We put up notices on site about the project so visitors can see what we are doing.

In June 2022 Fred took the digger to clear the meadow area and spread out the soil heaps, we found a lot of rubble and debris in the soil which was sifted using a riddling bucket on the digger. The soil was spread out to form a slope up to the river bank and give the landscape needed. We now have to leave the soil to settle and remove any weeds, then roll the ground and sow the seed in September. I made a chart showing the steps needed for creating and maintaining the meadow, this will be laminated and kept on site for reference.

Metal detectors were used on the new area, the finds so far are a large iron hinge post, part of a control wheel, 3 nuts and bolts, 3 slate cylinders with cutouts, several 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. We have an illuminated display showing the finds in a new section of the visitor centre. We will continue detecting, finds will be put on display and pictures shown below.

The project involves preserving features in and around the wildflower area, so the bypass channel next to it was dug out and cleaned, exposing the channel walls and tunnel ends. A fence has been put in to protect the drop into the trench. On 30/9/21 we uncovered the boiling house foundations next to the wildflower area, which has metal brackets at the corners. On 6/1/22 we made a wooden surround and cover for one bracket so it can be displayed, or covered to protect from weather, this was installed with an explanation sign. The Blacksmith's shop backs on to the wildflower area, we will decide how best to conserve the remains when the wildflower project is complete.

We bought 6kg of native wild flower and grass seed which will be used to sow the meadow, as well as the large Poppy seeds we saved from the end of the visitor centre and wildflower seeds donated by Eddie & Helen. This includes a wildflower only mix for re-seeding next year. Two bags of silver sand were bought on 14/5/22 to mix with the seeds before sowing, as suggested in the seed instructions. We missed the Spring sowing opportunity due to volunteers injuries, so we will sow in September which is the next best time. The advantages of Autumn sowing are that it helps Yellow Rattle which controls grasses, preventing them out competing the flowers, and it benefits Poppies and Cornflowers. When the meadow is established we will make information signs about the wildlife found there, it should attract bees, butterflies, other insects and birds which feed on them.

The large container is no longer needed and will spoil the view of the wildflower area, it was used to store materials and tools for restoration work in 2015. It will be removed from site as it has been replaced as part of this project with a shed attached to our visitor centre. The Visitor Centre is based on the original main mill building, the shed is based on the building on the right of it with the slate roof. The attached shed will reduce the structures on site from three to two, its environment friendly as the basesides and slate roof are made from re-used materials from The Maltings. Items from the store room in the visitor centre have been moved to the shed, so the old store room is now used for illuminated shelves displaying items found when making the wildflower area. 

On 20/1/22 five insect hotels were taken to the mill, we made stands for them using an old bed frame and trellis which we took apart using our pallet breaking tool. Ground stakes prevent the insect hotels blowing over, they are at the back of the site for now, but will be moved to the wildflower meadow when ready. In April a trailer, roller and seed spreader were taken to site, these are needed for preparing the wildflower meadow. In May the picnic bench was taken and assembled, its used on our lawn at present and will be put in the wildflower area when its complete. Our mower is kept securely off site and taken along when needed, on 17/6/22 we used it to tow the sweeper to the mill, this is on loan until we can buy one as they are out of stock, its needed for collecting wildflower cuttings after the seeds have dropped a week after mowing. Collecting cuttings allows light through to germinate seeds and reduces soil fertility which benefits wild flowers. We repaired the sweeper on 23/6/22. We also bought a strimmer for cutting around insect hotels and the picnic bench, this was used for community work on 23/6/22 when we cut overgrown grass on the Nar Valley Way footpath.

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

Dennis gave us some Lupin plants, although not wild flowers, they will attract bees. We can't plant them in the wildflower area yet as its still being prepared, 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, two plants have flowered already, we will keep the seed pods.

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

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 Blog 20/8/21