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Meadow care

Posted by Rosemoor Garden on 24 Aug 2009 at 12:26 PM

Meadow care 1

Here at Rosemoor we always try to garden with Wildlife in mind. To this end, the garden staff have gradually been extending the areas of grass given over to wild flower meadow. These areas are a haven for wildlife and have the added advantage of being beautiful informal swathes of colour and interest from spring through to late summer, much appreciated by our visitors.

In developing a wild flower meadow, try to choose a site with poor soil or to reduce its fertility and lessen the nutrient availability. This can be done in a variety of ways and helps suppress the growth of indigenous broadleaf grasses, allowing wildflower species to compete and ultimately thrive.

The fertility of the broadleaf grasses in the area is reduced by mowing and the removal of grass cuttings, thus preventing nutrients from being returned to the ground.

In late summer the area is cut and scarified and seeds of the yellow rattle plant (Rinanthus minor) are scattered. This plant parasitises the roots of grass, further weakening its growth and as an annual it will self seed again once established.

The following is a list of the plants that have been either introduced to the wild flower meadow or have been nurtured from endemic species found naturally inhabiting the meadow.

List of spring Flowers.

Dandelion - Taraxacum officinale
Creeping Buttercup - Ranunculus repens
Ladies Smock - Cardamine pratensis
White Ragged Robin - Lychnis flos-cuculi Alba
Snowdrop - Galanthus nivalis
Winter Aconite - Eranthis hyemalis
Miniature Daffodil - Narcissus cyclamineus
Crocus – Crocus tommasinianus
Snakeshead Fritillary - Fritillaria meleagris

List of summer Flowers.

Self Heal - Prunella vulgaris
Meadow Buttercup - Ranunculus acris
Birds Foot Trefoil - Lotus corniculatus
Greater Knapweed - Centaurea scabiosa
Field Scabious - Knautia arvensis
Yarrow - Achillea millefolium
Ladies Bedstraw - Galium verum
Ox-eye Daisy - Leucanthemum vulgare
White Clover - Trifolium repens
Betony - Stachys officinalis
Sorrel - Rumex acetosa
Autumn Hawkbit (Fox and cubs) - Pilosella aurantiaca
Plantain - Plantago lanceolata
Meadow Cranesbill –  Geranium pratense
Burnet Saxifrage –  Pimpinella saxifrage

Meadow care 2

Weather permitting, the wild flower meadows are cut during the first two weeks of August. The cutting is carried out using the Bucher M300K machine made by Kubota. This is a hefty yet handy and powerful pedestrian mower with reciprocating blades that can cope with tall, thick meadow grasses and plants.

Once cut, the grass is left to dry out for a day. There then begins a process of turning, known as ‘tedding’ using a tractor mounted rotary rake. This further dries the grass.

Tedding is carried out two or three more times, before it is left to fully dry and rake into rows. This has the advantage also of knocking out any remaining flower seeds to the ground to re-colonise the meadow with wild flowers. The dried grass or hay is then bailed and either stored for use for bedding for stock or is composted.

It’s not all playing with big machinery, as one our Student Gardeners, Lindsay demonstrates working up a sweat with fine hay raking technique.

 

Another one of the hay making crew, Rod Knight, a man happy in his work, proudly poses in quite a jaunty fashion in front of some “hay I have made earlier”. He is sporting the latest summer collection of gardening wear, showing that fashion, glamour and horticulture can go hand in hand.

 

 

Trainee Gardener -  Mike Record

 

 

 

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