Images above courtesy of Mark Schofield from Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust. The image on the left shows the seed mixes and on the right is seed preparation. In the banner image is Bishop David, the Revd Rachel Heskins and Mark Schofield. 

In September 2020 we shared details of a wonderful project that is taking place at the St John the Baptist church in Ermine East in Lincoln. It stands on a quarter of an acre plot (with no gravestones or memorials) and during lockdown when income streams dried up there were insufficient funds for the grass to be mown. As a result wild flowers started to pop up and the decision was made by the congregation to dispense with mowing and to rewild the churchyard. (You can read the original story at this link.)

The Revd Rachel Heskins sought advice from Mark Schofield, a Conservation Officer at Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust who  surveyed the area and gave advice on how to manage a meadow, as there needs to be a balance between the wild flowers and the right types of grass otherwise the grass smothers the flowers.

Fast forward several months to April 2021 and a total of 59 species have now been sown in an area about 400 square metres in size around the green space at the church. This includes 51 species suited to limestone soils hand-gathered by Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust staff during the 2020 summer lockdown from the Coronation Meadow at Red Hill in the Lincolnshire Wolds. This local wildflower seed was mixed with seven species of UK grasses bought from a reputable, local supplier that will grow with the wildflowers and not outcompete them.

A team of local volunteers from the community helped to strip the turf in October 2020 in compliance with COVID constraints at the time.

Mark said: "COVID and the presence of couch grass presented many challenges for us! We had to delay sowing until this spring and as seeds need several oscillations of cold and warm to germinate I commandeered the bottom shelf of our office fridge at Banovallum House in Horncastle for the cold part of that process. 

"A delay in installing seed processing facilities meant that I spent many night shifts, forcing chaff through a colander in our home kitchen under an extractor fan in order to prepare the seed for sowing.

"The area will be kept short in the first year but then managed with just two cuts per year from 2022 onwards to allow meadow wildflowers to provide a colourful display and to encourage pollinators such as wild bees, hoverflies and butterflies.  The community will be involved in raking off the hay at the end of summer and the wildflowers that grow will become a source of seed for more re-wilding in the parish."

On Sunday 11th April, Bishop David visited the church to see the finished project and to bless it. 

Rachel said: "We had a fantastic day with Bishop David. The sun shone briefly but long enough for him to bless our wildflower meadow. It looks like a patch of bare earth at the moment but by summer 2022, we hope it will be a blaze of colour. Thank you to Mark Schofield from the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust for all your hard work."

This item was published on Friday 16 April 2021.