Wildflowers

Mowing the Wildflower Meadow

Each year we give the wildflower a bit of a trim. This keeps the grass in check and helps the wild flowers to thrive.

Wildflowers are happy in ‘poor’ soil, and taking the cuttings away helps them by reducing soil fertility. The extra nutrients from the cuttings only encourages the grasses, which will then crowd-out the flowering plants

The grass will be cut in the week before, so the wildflower seeds get a chance to escape. On the day we need to rake up and remove up the grass cuttings.

It’s a lot of work, but it’s good fun. Our volunteers are a fabulous group of people.

We’ll be working in the wildflower meadow from 10am until about 12. All ages welcome (there’s a job for everyone).

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Sunflowers 2023

HBUF is all about providing a green space in the Swindon suburbs where people can get closer to nature. We were all moved by what was happening in Ukraine. We are not a political organisation, but we are all for bringing the community together for the good of all, and our sense of community doesn’t stop at the edge of Gorse Hill or Pinehurst.

In the summer of 2022, local people came together at HBUF to plant sunflowers, the national flower of Ukraine. After planting their own seeds at home, people brought their young plants to create a display in our new Miyawaki forest area.

Group of about a dozen volunteers planting sunflowers on a bright sunny day. They are in a fenced-off area with young fruit trees. In the background is a wildflower meadow and forest.
Some of the volunteers in 2022

The event was a huge success. Not only did we bring together a large group of people for our own small act of solidarity, the sunflowers provided us with a glorious show of colour through the summer months.

We have spoken to so many people about how much they loved the sunflowers and, with the war still going on, we are doing it again this year.

If you would like to take part then grab your seeds and get planting. We will be coming together in the first week of June to plant them. If you’d like some seeds then get in touch, we have lots! If you spot Andy out and about he’s probably got some in his pocket for you…

Below, you can see some of our flowers from last year. Alongside the regular sunflowers that we are all familiar with we planted some heritage varieties, so there are some striking and unusual flowers in there, from Teddy Bears to Velvet Queens!

Here at Hreod Burna Urban Forest we may not be able to do any campaigning, but we can bring the community together in a small act of solidarity. And we’re really bloody good at planting things.

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It’s time to mow the meadow

Each year we give the wildflower a bit of a trim. This keeps the grass in check and helps the wild flowers to thrive.

The grass has been cut. Now we need to rake up and remove up the cuttings and put them to good use elsewhere. This year we’ll be using them to mulch the new trees in our Miyawaki Forest and Celtic Circle.

It’s a lot of work, but it’s good fun. Our volunteers are a fabulous group of people.

We’ll be working in the wildflower meadow from 10am until about 12. All ages welcome (there’s a job for everyone).

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Our Sunflowers are in…

HBUF is all about providing a green space in the Swindon suburbs where people can get closer to nature. We are not a political organisation. But we are all about community. We are all about coming together for the good of all.

When we come here to plant trees or mow the grass or keep the brambles under control we’re not doing it just for us, but for everyone who comes to visit, hundreds, maybe thousands of people, most of them complete strangers out to walk their dogs or take their kids on an adventure.

But our sense of community doesn’t stop at the edge of Gorse Hill or Pinehurst.

On Saturday 28th May, 2022, local people came together to plant sunflowers that they had been growing at home. The sunflower is the national flower of Ukraine.

We’ve all been moved by what is happening in Ukraine. We’ve seen the outpouring of support for its people right across the UK. Here in Swindon some people have opened their homes while others like Kate, one of our volunteers, have made them welcome by collecting donations of clothes and other essentials.

small sunflower plants, freshly planted, some supported by bamboo canes
A close up of some of our new arrivals

Here at Hreod Burna Urban Forest we may not be able to do any campaigning, but we can bring the community together in a small act of solidarity. And we’re really bloody good at planting things. So when I found out that the sunflower was the national flower of Ukraine this seemed like the obvious thing for us to do.

We couldn’t do any of this without our lovely volunteers, who came together with their sunflowers to create our display. We planted between 150-200 plants. There’s a mix of heritage varieties in there, in a range of colours, shapes and sizes, from Teddy Bears to Velvet Queens, so should be quite a show!

We’ll keep you updated as the sunflowers (we hope!) grow and flower, but feel free to come and admire them in person!

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Sunflower Planting

At HBUF we’re not just about trees. Each year the flowers dotted around the forest and in our wildflower meadow bring a bit more colour and beauty into our strolls through the fields and trees.

Last year we came together to plant more than a hundred sunflowers, the national flower of Ukraine. As well as being gorgeous, the birds and bees will love them, and they made a wonderful sight throughout the summer months.

After a fantastically successful first year, which has attracted such a lot of positive feedback, and with the war still going on in Ukraine, we have decided to do it again this year, and we’d like you to be a part of it.

We want you to help by growing your own seedlings and bringing them to become part of our sunflower garden when are ready to plant-out. We have some simple advice on how to grow them here.

Join us at the Miyawaki Forest from 1pm. If you don’t have your own sunflowers, don’t despair, you can still join in – we have plenty of extra plants we need help with!

No special equipment required, we’ll have forks and spades handy, though a trowel or hand fork might be useful.

Planting is simple enough, a small hole to transfer your plant into, along with the soil it’s currently in, then a bit of a water to help it along. If you’re feeling strong, you can help us ferry water from the brook.

If you’re driving, be aware that the Southbrook Playing Fields car park isn’t under our control and may not be open, but we’re a short walk from any of the local Pinehurst and Gorse Hill streets.

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Fantastic Fritillaries

At the end of 2020 we planted 1,000 fritillary bulbs in our wildflower meadow.

After their first showing last year we wondered how they would do this year.

As it turns out, they’ve done wonderfully! We have even more flowers this year, and they’ve made their way further across the meadow.

If they continue to spread at this rate then in a few years they are going to be *awesome*!

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It’s time to mow the meadow!

Each year we give the wildflower a bit of a trim. This keeps the grass in check and helps the wild flowers to thrive.

It’s a lot of work, so we need your help!

Mowing the meadow 2020
Some of last year’s helpers…

If you can spare an hour or two to help us rake up and remove up the cuttings you’ll be doing great things for our little forest and the many visitors who come to enjoy it.

We’ll be working in the wildflower meadow (of course 🙂 ) from 10am on Sunday 29th August. All ages welcome.

Why not bring a picnic, or at least a little something for a well-earned break at half-time.

HBUF Map

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Let’s get to work…

So that it can reach its full potential as a haven for wildlife and people alike in the urban landscape of Swindon, the Hreod Burna Urban Forest needs a lot of work.

Following on from the huge success of our efforts to mow the wildflower meadow in September, we have plans to take on a series of vital jobs in other parts of HBUF.

Just some of our wildflower volunteers

Over the coming months we have volunteers from various groups coming in for one-off events and we’re launching a regular get-together once a month to tackle a long list of jobs that the trustees have identified:

  • Strimming, clearing of brambles and cutting back in some areas to allow new planting and maintain previously planted areas.
  • Creating a grove of birch trees around the trees rescued from the Moonrakers roadworks.
  • Preparation and planting of our Celtic tree circle.
  • Strimming and clearance of existing paths and cutting back trees/undergrowth in preparation for laying of new paths.
  • Coppicing – this was started last autumn and needs to be maintained.
  • Planting of trees & under-storey shrubs (e.g. box, yew, holly).
  • Planting of 1,000 fritillaries and wildflower plug plants in the wildflower meadow.
  • Clearance of the Himalayan balsam growing along the brook – it’s an invasive species.

Our regular work parties will be on the first Sunday of every month, starting on the 1st of November.

The events will be covid-safe. We have plenty of jobs spread across the site to allow small groups to work at distance within government guidelines.

We’ll post more details of the particular works planned each month closer to the date, and what particular skills & equipment (gloves, tools, etc.) might be required. If you can join us every month, or just for an hour or two every now and again, your efforts will be greatly appreciated (not just by us but by everyone that gets such joy from the forest both today and for years to come).

You can check back here or on Facebook for news of upcoming events. If you haven’t already, why not subscribe to our mailing list for advanced warning of events and other updates from HBUF.

Let’s get to work… Read More »

The Great British Mow-Off

Last Sunday, 13th September 2020, at 10.00am, a large group of people met at our wildflower meadow to help with the annual mow and rake.

Photo of the wildflower meadow before the mowing. Grass and wildflowers up to 3 feet high.
Before…

So, how many people does it take to mow and rake a meadow?  I counted twenty; and they were perfectly splendid specimens of humanity who had given up their Sunday morning to engage in some pretty vigorous exercise.  One of them, pressed into service by his girlfriend’s mother, was seized upon straight away to mantle (if there’s a ‘dismantle’, there has to be a ‘mantle’, right?) a new rake before using it to do some raking.  Bob started on another, but had to stop as he lost a nut and bolt.  Can’t get the staff.  The girlfriend, by the way, had stayed in bed. 

There was a certain amount of standing around to begin with, since an assumption had been made that the mowing would have already taken place during the week.  That assumption is all tied in with an inference about mowers – just because something is mechanical doesn’t mean that it is just a walk in the park.  At some point soon, we will be getting a tractor and then, perhaps, we can talk about walks in parks, but for now, take it as read that mowing with a scythe-mower is a strenuous work-out.

However, this standing around was a brilliant opportunity to engage with new people, to see old friends, chat over how and why everyone had come, put faces to names, marvel over what a little jewel Hreod Burna Urban Forest is, and express surprise that so many people who live in the area do not know of its existence.

Andy took the first shift with our scythe-mower and he alternated with our press-ganged boyfriend over the course of the morning.  Since I have very little muscle, I did a bit of raking to show willing till my little muscle gave up, and everyone else did a lot of energetic raking.  Then I remembered the important job of taking photographs.  I hope you will be able to spot yourself in one of them.  Unfortunately, Andy won’t be able to spot himself as I missed him out (sorry, Andy, one day your turn will come and you will achieve stardom).

Photo of wildflower after the mowing. Large area of rough cut grass.
…after!

All of this airy persiflage goes to express our huge thanks to everyone who came and worked so hard.  We are particularly thankful because of all the setbacks everyone has had this year so far.

Checkout our volunteers in action…

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P.S.  During the course of the morning, Jason’s daughters found beetles, frogs, toads, crickets, grasshoppers, and even a mouse.  Several of us were gifted, furthermore, with visits from dragonflies.

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