At Pathways to the Past, over the past few months, we have been working with Owen Standen and the Lyminge Environmental Group to develop a new management plan for the church yard. This area is important because it provides a vital link in the green corridor we have now managed to establish in the village from the open fields to the south west, though Court Lodge Green (the Bumpy Field) to Well Field and Tayne Field, right in the heart of our village. This is of huge value as a source of different habitats, and it allows wildlife to move from the countryside through this entire area much more easily. So our plan for the church yard, not just to build on what is already a beautiful space but also to create new habitats and increase bio-diversity, is really significant for us all.
Work began on Saturday. The weather could have been better, but an intrepid band of volunteers braved the rain to first of all remove the piles of rubble and bricks left over from the dig last year, and then remove the surface stones and rake the areas we were going to sow.
The ground was pretty difficult despite the rain because it is still very stony and it is hard to use a normal bulb planter in these circumstances. We had to resort to forks and mattocks to break up the ground, but somehow managed to plant the whole 75kg of bulbs that we had purchased for this area.
We have planted more bulbs in the bank to the right by the main gate, and along the path edges in many places. In all we planted several thousand bulbs on Saturday.
We have also begun to create a sensory garden by the seat next to the buttress with herbs like Rosemary, Sage and Lavender. Once these have a chance to establish and grow, this area should become an even nicer place to sit than it is already.
The working group that gathered on Sunday was smaller than the previous day, but we made good progress sowing a mix of wild flower and grass seed. We are using a formulation that has been developed specifically for chalk downland. This is the same mix from the same supplier used by the National Trust on the White Cliffs, so it should do well in the church yard where we already have some lovely areas that are effectively managed as meadow. We have added a cornfield mix to the area that has been seeded around the War Memorial, so we hope to see poppies coming through there too next Summer.
We have made a good start. Owen sees this as the beginning of a Five Year Plan that will see more things to do and more areas to bring under active management as we go forward. We haven’t quite finished the work this Autumn as our contractors still have to install a new drain through the bank to the north east of the chancel. Once this has been laid, we can complete the planting of bulbs there, and also put in primroses that we hope will create a stunning display as you enter the church yard next Spring.
Many thanks to the volunteers who turned out to transform the church yard over the weekend. We hope that everyone will appreciate the efforts made when the bulbs start to come through and the flowers begin to appear in the Spring. In the meantime, please keep to the paths in the church yard and avoid walking on the edges so as not to disturb the newly seeded areas.