It has been very noticeable this year that the grass has been sparser and the Rattle has spread to occupy more space and in parts is really dense.
Due to a number of delays the meadow was scythed bit by bit from September right through to March. By the end of March we had cut and removed the grass from the whole area
The vast majority of the cut grass was moved to the pigs with the aim of soaking up some of the mud. The pigs did enjoy eating it as well of course, even the stuff that had been lying in windrows for months. You can see the evidence of those long-lying windrows on the picture above. Again, this happened due to unforeseen demands on our time. It might have meant that some nitrogen leached back into the soil but the mulch, when removed, did result in these bare strips which must be a good thing giving some species a head start over the grass:
There is also quite a lot of moss:
which must also be a good thing in that it is not grass.
We did leave an area uncut – here you can see the contrast:
This patch has not been cut or grazed for two years and under the thatch there is a wonderful environment for voles, something our Tawny Owls are pleased about.
So we are looking forward to the next few months to see how the meadow is different from last year and hope to be able to add more species of flowering plants to this list.
We are very slowly trying to move a rather monocultural field towards being a meadow with greater biodiversity.
The field was grazed by sheep up until spring 2015 although probably not artificially enriched as the grazing was done on a neighbourly basis.
It was not cut in the summer of 2015 so by 2016 was well thatched under that years rampant growth. Over several months we scythed the whole field and removed two years of grass (and put it in with the pigs – to eat and also to mitigate the mire)
So Spring and Summer of 2017 seem a good time to start trying to document what is actually growing here. We will start with flowing plants because grasses are far too hard at the moment.
So here we aim to catalogue what we see now in the hope more species will arrive. We would welcome support with our not very expert identification (please leave a comment).
This page is a work in progress. Number of species added so far: 14
Common Fumitory [Fumaria officinalis]
“scrambling annual on well-drained arable soils”
Which explains why our one example is half way up the pile of top soil left by the contractor.
Common Sorrel [Rumex acetosa]
Common vetch [Vicia sativa]
Corn Chamomile [Anthemis arvensis]
We knew there are different kinds of dandelion, and had noticed we have more than one, but until doing a bit of research hadn’t realise just how many there are. As one source says: “This taxonomically difficult genus comprises 229 apomictic microspecies in our area, of which over 40 are probably endemic and about 100 are alien.” So for the time being we won’t try to differentiate.
Germander Speedwell [Veronica chamaedrys]
Hairy Rock-cress [Arabis hirsuta]
We think we have identified this correctly.
Several plants growing in bare poor soil that had been rearranged by digger earlier in the year
Lady’s Smock [Cardamine pratensis]
Lesser Celandine [Ranunculus ficaria]
Meadow Buttercup [Ranunculus acris]
While we battle the Creeping Buttercup in the vegetable garden it is good to enjoy the classic buttercup of childhood dreams in its right place.
It takes over the meadow colour from the Lady’s Smock before handing on to the red of Sorrel
Meadow Vetchling [Lathyrus pratensis]
Musk Mallow [Lathyrus Malva moschata]
Ribwort Plantain [Plantago lanceolata]
Yellow-rattle [Rhinanthus minor]
Something we are pleased to see of course as it lives a semi-parasitic life by feeding off the nutrients in the roots of nearby grasses. It feeds off the vigorous grasses, eventually allowing more delicate species to push their way through.