Planting flowers while the sun shines

It’s not just sun worshippers who have been making the most of the current heatwave. Northumberland Wildlife Trust’s Catch My Drift project team, based at East Chevington, has been working around the clock to ensure the 185-hectare reserve is in pristine condition, not just for wildlife but for the thousands of visitors - many of whom won’t have set foot inside the reserve for well over a year.

The Catch My Drift project, which last year received a funding boost of £415,800 from players of the National Lottery via a grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, is working to protect and revive threatened habitats and provide refuge for different species on the Druridge Bay site.

In a typical year, the site attracts 10,000 visitors and is home to nationally and internationally significant species such as marsh harrier, red squirrels and great crested newts.

Last October, 160kg of locally sourced seed from Kevin Wharf Farming in Thropton, was sown by hand by a small team of onto eight hectares of improved grassland on the site, as part of the 22-hectare plan for the wildflower meadow’s restoration.

At the end of last year (2020), Catch My Drift volunteers decided to give the meadow a further boost in spring 2021 by planting out plug plants of cornflowers, ox-eye daisy and wild red clover, all of which they grew at home over the winter months from seed and compost packs assembled and distributed by the project team.

By last week, there was a wonderful array of plants, and conditions were perfect for the volunteers to head out and plant them, to help accelerate the development of the meadows for the resident wildlife and ensure visitors have a wonderful time when they visit.

Speaking about the planting, Joel Ireland, Catch My Drift project trainee said: “Just because the volunteers couldn’t get out on site towards the end of last year, didn’t mean they didn’t want to help in some way. The planting of the seeds over the winter really kept their spirits up as they all looked forward to the time they would be able to meet up on reserve again and plant them out and have even suggested it becomes an annual event.”

Joel Ireland Catch My Drift planting flowers - Chloe Cook

Joel Ireland (far left), Catch My Drift Trainee with his team of volunteers about to start planting flowers, image Chloe Cook.