With the weather intent on alternately freezing and drenching us, it’s something of a relief for me that February is a quiet month for a wildflower garden.  Only in this last week am I beginning to see the first cotyledons of hope sprouting among the grasses, but it’s impossible to tell what’s growing at such an early stage.  All of this gives me an opportunity to fill in some details about the history of the project:

With considerably more enthusiasm than knowledge, I began my attempt to create a meadow back in January 2015 and it’s been a steep learning curve for me.  I started by turning over the top soil and then spread a mix of wildflower and grass seeds from a local supplier and waited.

The result was a huge disappointment!  Unable to tell arable weeds from wildflowers before the flowering stage, I soon found I’d grown a dense jungle of weeds as tall as me.  Despite this embarrassing setback, I spent many hours wrenching out weeds and learning to tell the good from the bad as I went along.

Gradually, much to my relief, this and the regular mowing regime made its mark.  I hadn’t realised that meadow perennials tend to consolidate in the first year and flower the next.  I am still working to undo some of the damage caused by my first year’s mistakes, such as not mowing initial growth more frequently, but the situation is improving year on year with growth shorter and diversity increasing.  Ultimately, the wildlife itself decides whether I am succeeding or not and, with the many species of bees, butterflies and other insects visiting, I think I can feel quite happy with what I have achieved so far.

I'm no lepidopterist, so take it with a pinch of salt when I say that I believe the brown caterpillar on the first leaf is that of the gatekeeper butterfly (larvae feed on the fine grasses I grow there); I think the small whitish caterpillar on the upper right lobe of the second leaf picture is that of the common blue (larvae eat the bird's-foot trefoil that grows quite abundantly there); finally, I think the greenish caterpillar on the third leaf is that of the speckled wood butterfly (larvae also eat grasses).  I have seen the adult versions of all 3 of these species very frequently on the plot and, since their larval food plants are all present, I would expect to see their caterpillars too.  I did also find a mystery white caterpillar, but the wind blew the leaf away before I could take the picture and I never could find it again!