Monday, 2 April 2012

Project summary

I have been asked by the national Wildlife Gardening Forum to speak at a conference on lawns and biodiversity at the Natural History Museum at the end of June. Accordingly, on 29 March 2012, I marked out a rectangle on our small country garden lawn at Sedlescombe, East Sussex, UK measuring just under 0.4 sq m.

It is short mown turf with a rich mixture of grasses and other plants and I intend to let it develop as it will, at least until the date of the conference.

Having marked out the area I removed all the dead leaves and twigs and added a piece of sandstone and a small pitfall trap covered by a half brick. I also turned over a square of turf its four sides each the length of my spade to expose some bare earth and see what plants might be lurking in the subterranean seed bank.

I have a stout rectangular wire basket which I have put over the area partly to define it, partly to keep rabbits and tramplers (including children) out. I will take this off from time to time.

Insects started to appear straight away. On the second day there were many black ants, a lycosid spider in the pitfall and, on the following day a staphylinid rove beetle in the same place. All the plants will be in the full species list. I did, however, find one tiny flower on the first day on a diminutive plant of thyme-leaved speedwell Veronica serpyllifolia.

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