ESF2 – Wild Pollen and Nectar Flowers
Pollen and nectar is provided by a wide range of wild flowers. ESF2 contains species that have been shown to be particularly important to bumblebees like red clover and birdsfoot trefoil as well as open flowered plants like wild carrot and oxeye daisy which are important for other beneficial insect groups such as hoverflies. ESF2, if sown with a grass mix, can develop into flower-rich stable grassland. With the longer lived genuine wild red clover and other plants it offers a long lived sustainable alternative to the short-lived pollen and nectar mixtures based on agricultural forage varieties.
|2||1||0.2||Order this mixture|
This flower mixture is designed to be sown with a grass mix such as ESG1 or ESG2 to create a long-term flower rich grassland. These grass mixtures are usually sown @ 20kg/ha which with the 2kg/ha recommended rate of ESF2 gives a combined sowing rate of 22kg/ha on to bare soil to create flower-rich margins and plots (Countryside Stewardship option AB8).
This perennial wild flower mix can also be added to short-term legume mix ESF3 to provide some flowers in years 3 -5 of Countryside stewardship option AB1 nectar flower mix. Add 1 - 2kg /ha ESF2 to 10-11 kg/ha ESF3 to give a combined sowing rate of 12kg/ha.
It can also be used on its own as a 100% wild flower mix to add diversity to existing grassland.
The following growing guide assumes sowing with grass onto a bare soil seed bed to create flower-rich margins and plots.
Ideally select ground that is not highly fertile and does not have a problem with perennial weeds (especially weeds like docks, thistles or couch). Choose lower yielding areas that have a sunny aspect, or face south or south-southwest. Avoid planting under overhanging trees, next to tall hedges or on land facing north or east.
Good preparation is essential to success so aim to control weeds and produce a good quality seed bed before sowing. Roll fluffy or dry seedbeds with a ring roll to consolidate before sowing.
Seed is best sown in the autumn or spring, but can be sown at other times of the year if there is sufficient warmth and moisture. Sow between 15 March to 31 May or 15 July to 15 October to comply with Countryside stewardship requirements. (If sowing just wild flowers into existing grassland sow in Autumn).
Seed must be surface sown: broadcast by machine or broadcast by hand (do not drill). Do not incorporate or cover the seed, but roll to firm it in and get good soil/seed contact. (more on sowing)
First year management
Growth and establishment of wild flowers and grasses may be slow initially. There will often be a flush of annual weeds from the soil in the first growing season. This weed growth is easily controlled by topping or mowing. Top all plant growth at least 3 times through the first season (removing cuttings if dense) to prevent weeds and grasses smothering the slow-growing flowers. More frequent and regular topping will minimise the amount of toppings produced each time so they can be left to disperse.
Management once established
Each spring if plant growth is more than 15cm in height cut (and remove cuttings if dense) to achieve a plant height of between 5cm and 10cm tall. Cut before 31 March.
Do not cut or disturb grassland from 31 March - 15 August to provide flowers, habitat and foraging sites for invertebrates (including wild pollinators) and birds.
Cut or graze back the main summer growth after 15 August and remove cuttings so not to leave a mulch and to help reduce soil fertility; both important to maintain flower numbers in subsequent years.
Cut or graze up to 31 October aiming to leave a plant height of between 10cm and 20cm. Remove cuttings if too dense to disperse easily and quickly.
Leave 10% of the area uncut or ungrazed to provide over-winter nesting and safe refuges for insects and other wildlife.
For Countryside stewardship option AB1 nectar flower mix. Add 1 - 2kg /ha ESF2 to 10-11 kg/ha ESF3 to give a combined sowing rate of 12kg/ha.