Churchyard Nature Note with Andrew Tompsett

May 2015

Maytime – when nature takes over.

Following extensive clearing of old vegetation in the churchyard involving bramble bashing, strimming and burning, now is the time when our activity slackens and nature is putting on its greatest show. The daffodils will be allowed to die down naturally, the primroses will be setting seed with celandine and bluebells making their brilliant display.
Has Isaiah 35:2 set the scene? ” Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers and singing and joy. The Glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God.”
Apart from the lawn areas and pathways which are kept closely mowed throughout the year much of the churchyard will be allowed to grow up naturally for a period of about 4 months during which many wild flowers will be able to produce seed which not only yields new plants but are an important winter food for birds and small animals.
This year some of the clumps of daffodils have become too densely crowded and ceased to flower. These will be dug up, the densely packed bulbs split up and replanted in fresh places. This method of replanting ‘in the green’, better known for snowdrops, is very successful, provided the bulbs are not allowed to dry up but are dug and replanted on the same day. Later on in the summer, most bulbs can be dried off when they have developed a thicker coat, or tunic, as they are seen in garden centres, etc. in late summer. Even then, very small bulbs like snowdrops are best not dried at all. Our policy for the summer months will be to keep pathways mowed regularly and the sides of the paths trimmed so that nettles, brambles, cow parsley and hogweed do not encroach.
Using the ride-on mower, many more casual pathways have been created making it pleasant to deviate from the main permanent paths. It is not possible to keep areas around every grave closely trimmed but the churchyard team have done a thorough job this last 6 months. Like so much in gardening, starting the year clean and reasonably tidy does make things easier later and the display of summer flowers will be all the better for it.
As the trees come into leaf, you may notice that those adjacent to the electricity power lines have been pruned and this extends to the boundary by the bus stop. We are grateful to SW Power Distribution for doing this. The extra light that now reaches the ground does benefit many flowers and this in turn is beneficial for various insects, especially bees and flies, so necessary for pollinating flowers and fruit crops in our fields and gardens, on which we all depend.