In 2016 we relocated to Oppenwehe which is – so to speak – on the southern rim of the North German plain. We are now living on what used to be a farm for generations. The red-brick house dates back to the late 19th century. With the house came an almost half hectare of ground that had been used as forage meadow for a very long time. As of autumn 2016 we are transforming this plot into a garden not just for us but for wildlife too. So far in doing so we have had to brave droughts in the sandy soil, heat waves with an unforgiving sun burning the meadow plants to bits for weeks, a far too big population of root voles, legions of cockchafer grubs, storms with gale-force gusts and an exceptionally cold spell with temperatures falling as low as minus 20 and heaps of snow all over the place in February 2021.
We have had wild flowers right from the start: we had seas of red with poppies, and waves of blue with cornflowers, and marbles of white and purple with corn cockle, and so many others. All of them teamed up to attract a wealth of pollinators which in turn attracted flocks of all sorts of birds: tits and chaffinches, starlings and sparrows, and the goldfinches came to raid the sunflowers and thistles. The sparrow hawk pops by every now and then. Marten and foxes are helping themselves to their fair share of rodents. And on a rainy week the buzzard will feed on the giant earth worms that try to escape the rising waters in the soil. And we had, on several occasions, new born baby hares hidden in some dense growth.
The numbers have grown over the years, in individuals as well as in species. There is a little wren checking out the brick wall of the raised bed, a dunnock has discovered the dense foliage of the ivy, thrushes come in late winter to feed on the old ivy‘s berries. Where a basically uninhabited ocean of forage grass used to be, now grow flowers and there are butterflies and moths, hover flies and bumble bees, and crickets and grasshoppers, and spiders and beetles, and solitary bees and wasps as well as hornets and honey bees in abundance. The meadow is full of ants, a constant feast for the green woodpecker.
„Giving Diversity a Home“ is the catchphrase.
In 2020 I put together a mix of wildflower seeds grown in our own garden. I printed a label for the sachet with a wood cut of a poppy flower and some notes on how to sow and grow the seeds – handset from Optima and printed letterpress. (Currently sold out)
In 2022 I designed a speciality sachet filled with one of my favourites: corn cockle seeds, grown in our garden. I have had corn cockle in my garden since the 1990s, when it was still hard to find someone to supply the seeds, because back then corn cockle had almost gone extinct. This lovely flower is now making its comeback as garden beauty. I have printed a label with a colour linocut and some notes on how to sow and grow and a short history of corn cockle – handset from Optima and printed letterpress. It is hot off the press at springtime for the BuchDruckKunst fair in Hamburg 1-3 April 2022.
Recommended for any gardener with nature on their mind:
Adrian Thomas „Gardening for Wildlife – A Complete Guide to Nature-friendly Gardening“ 2017, Bloomsbury, London+NY
For dealers of wildflower seeds and plants please check out suppliers in the country you are located in. Sending living plants and seeds across national borders usually comes with customs restrictions. For German residents there is a suppliers‘ list on the German blogpost (just click the language switch button or the national flag button).
If you are interested in more stories about our garden, you will find them on my blog: www.disslin-an.net – find a brand new special post on Corn Cockle there.