Last night a meeting was held of the working group for Francesca’s meadow, which SGCT is helping to create at the Field Studies Council headquarters at Preston Montford, near Shrewsbury, as a celebration of the life of Francesca Griffith, a local ecologist. Preston Montford is one of a network of teaching centres around the UK and this newly created wildflower meadow s already being used as a teaching resource to train both the Countryside Managers of tomorrow and enthusiastic amateurs. Last August SGCT donated 6 large round bales of green hay from its wonderful Ropewalk and Wilderness wildflower meadows in Coalbrookdale. The hay was spread by around 40 excellent volunteers, then left for a few weeks for the seeds to fall, then raked back off the site with a tractor. The site was then grazed hard with sheep to create spaces in the thick grass sward for the seed to set. Last night Mike Ashton, Sian Edwards, Adrian Pickels and Russell Rowley revisited the meadow and were delighted that it is full of yellow rattle and eyebright from the SGCT meadows. The yellow rattle will paratasise the vigorous grasses allowing more of the wildflowers to grow. The area was divided into plots before we started last year with some plots sprayed and others not so that annual botanical surveys will show whether spraying is a useful method of creating wildflower meadows where there is a thick grass sward. So all very exciting and SGCT has also delivered green hay to several other restoration projects in North Shropshire. If you magnify the close up photo you will see lots of yellow rattle plants growing amongst the grass and a few eyebright if you can spot them!
If you want to learn the basics about some of the wildflowers in hay meadows Russell Rowley is leading an afternoon walk around Wilderness Meadow in Coalbrookdale on Wednesday 10th June. Cost £10 booking required – see our website at www.severngorge.org.uk