Maintenance: The grass is cut in August and the hay removed by mechanical means.
The heavy horses from The Working Horse Trust then harrow the meadow to removethe thatch, scatter seed and open up the sward to enable the wildflowers to seed successfully.
Through the Seasons: In April the first meadow grasses flower, one of the first is the Sweet Vernal-grass, Anthoxanthum odoratum followed by the Meadow Foxtail,
The first colour to be seen is yellow from the cowslips then in May the buttercups start to flower followed by the Yellow Rattle, Rhinianthus minor agg., Meadow Vetchling, Lathyrus pratensis and Common Bird’s-foot-trefoil, Lotus cornicula. Late May and June sees the red of Red Clover, Trifolium pratense, pink of the Common Spotted-orchid, Dactylorhiza fuchsia and the whites of the Oxeye Daisy, Leucanthemum vulgare and the Lesser Stitchwort, Stellaria graminea. Later in the summer/early autumn the beautiful Devilsbit Scabious, Succisa pratensis gives parts of the meadow a purple haze.
Many of the wildflowers and grasses in the meadow provide food for the numerous insects, butterflies and moths. Amongst them bees, including Bumble Bees, and hover flies feed on Bird’s-foot-trefoil, Knapweed, Clover, Selfheal, Betony and many more. Cock’s Foot is an important food for the caterpillars of the Ringlet and Large Skipper butterflies. The caterpillars of the Small Skipper feed on Yorkshire Fog and Common Sorrel is a food source for the Small Copper butterfly. Other insects to be seen in the meadow include spiders, beetles, damsel flys, grasshoppers, crickets, ladybirds and dragonflies.
There are many more wildflowers, grasses, sedges, rushes and ferns to be seen throughout the garden. There is a full list for sale in the entrance lodge.
For further reference Margaret Pilkington’s book ‘Wildflower Meadows’ is a detailed study of Meadows.