Celia Chapple from Barnard Castle at work
Celia Chapple from Barnard Castle at work

VISITORS to Barnard Castle’s upper Demesnes are in for a colourful wildflower treat next summer thanks to the efforts of various groups and volunteers.

A haymeadow was created in the area in 2009 by a circle of local residents and dog walkers who formed a Friends of the Demesnes group.

With help from botanists Dr Dick Warren and Dr Margaret Bradshaw, the group gathered wildflower seeds from the upper dale which they sowed over a large stretch of the upper Demesnes.

Later, with cash from Barnard Castle Lions Club, they sowed more seeds on the bank connecting the upper and lower Demesnes last year, although this has been less successful.

Now the group has joined forces with the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership (AONB), which provided grown-on flowers from the upper dale through its “plugging the gaps” scheme.

Sam Turner

Scheme members of the friends group and other volunteers banded together recently to plant more than a thousand of the little wildflowers at the small area of hay meadow at The Witham as well on the Demesnes.

Roger Peat, from the friends group, said: “It was great to see organisations working together. The chances of the flowers multiplying is increased when you grow them on instead of sowing seeds.”

Types of wildflowers planted at the entrance to the haymeadow included melancholy thistle, hawkbit, great burnet and crane’s bill. Globe flower and devil’s bit scabious were planted in a more damp area of the meadow.

Former Barnard Castle resident Neil Diment, who was part of the original friends group, returned to the town to help out on the day.

He said: “The plants had all been collected from sites in upper Teesdale and grown on from seed by volunteers from the North Pennines AONB Partnership’s plug planting scheme. We’ll look forward keenly to seeing the results of our labours next summer, hopefully with enhanced swards in both meadows.”