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Herefordshire’s Marvellous Meadows

Posted: Monday 3rd July 2017 by FrancesWeeks

Some of nature’s best shows require you to spend four hours crouched under bush; others that you get up at 4 am; many require a long, usually uphill, trek. Not this one.

Wildflower meadows are in full, joyous, loveliness at this time of year and all you need to do to experience their beauty is to wander slowly through them, idling your fingers through the long grass and maybe sighing quietly.
Tragically, around 97 % of those traditional hay meadows which are rich in our native wildflowers have been lost across the UK over the past half century, but tucked away in the Herefordshire countryside you can still find treasures – if you know where to look.

To make the most of your visit, do take an identification guide (- for flowers and for butterflies too). You don’t need to get terribly technical but learning to recognise common flowers can add much to your appreciation and is a great way to keep children interested. (Free spotter sheet available to download: http://bit.ly/1JIrRgM )

The 5 best wildflower meadows to visit in Herefordshire:

1. Quebb Corner Meadow – Herefordshire Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve
Just South of Kington, Quebb Meadow is a pocket of treasures with a wonderful array of orchids. Look out too for devil’s-bit scabious, betony, marsh arrowgrass and ox-eye daisies. Details & directions

2. Lugg Meadow - Herefordshire Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve
Lying on the eastern outskirts of Hereford, Lugg Meadow is famed for it’s springtime snake’s-head fritillaries but a visit to this historic lammas meadow is just as rewarding in summer when it turns golden with buttercups. Details & directions

3. Stockings Meadow - Herefordshire Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve
This meadow west of Bromyard slopes down to the Hackley Brook. In the damper spots you will find ragged robin and the ethereal blossom of meadowsweet. Details & directions

4. Joan’s Hill Farm – Plantlife Nature Reserve
This patchwork of fields, reached by walking through Haugh Wood near Woolhope, is almost unchanged from the tithe map of 1843. A fantastic place to see common spotted orchids. Details & directions

5. Birches Farm - Herefordshire Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve
This historic farmstead just outside Kington has been traditionally managed for centuries. The variety of species is such that this year the Trust’s volunteer team have been harvesting seeds from the meadows to reseed other local sites. Details & directions


What makes a meadow?

A meadow is a grassland field which is left to grow then cut for hay each summer (typically in July) then grazed in the late summer and autumn. If no fertilizers or weed killers are applied and it is just left to do its thing, then over time a wide variety of flowers and grasses get a foothold. The most beautiful meadows have been managed in this low-maintenance way for centuries.
Wildflower meadows are undoubtedly good for the soul but they’re good for a lot of other things too. Meadows are always buzzing with bees and butterflies while the long grass hides voles, field mice and rabbits which in turn provide supper for barn owls and foxes. The more meadows we have, the more alive and healthy our landscape will be.


Top tips: 

  • Take nothing but photographs… It’s tempting but please don’t pick the flowers – instead sow wildflower seed at home in your garden or a window box for your own mini-meadow.
  • Meadows are cut for hay each summer so try to keep to the edges of field to avoid trampling the grasses and flowers.
  • If you’re taking your dog on a floral tour, make sure you bag and bin any dog mess – this can otherwise get baled in the hay and harm livestock.

So what are you waiting for? Pull some floral prints from your wardrobe, deck yourself with daisies and float through the flowers.

 

 

 

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