Celebrating our Magnificent Meadows

picture by Nicole Daw

Meadows and other species-rich grasslands are a key part of the UK’s natural and cultural heritage. National Meadows Day this year takes place on Saturday 2nd July, each year it’s a chance to visit meadows at their peak, to celebrate them, have fun and raise awareness of this forgotten habitat.

The National Trust cares for many meadows in the South West and as part of National Meadows Day, a number of special events are taking place including a 24 hour Bioblitz at Lundy Bay in North Cornwall to a Meadows Celebration day at Dyrham Park near Bristol to a summer wildflower meadow walk at Shirehampton in Bristol. (further details on these events and more below)

Meadows and species-rich grasslands can support a huge range of wildlife including wildflowers, fungi, bees, flies, beetles, spiders, moths, butterflies, reptiles, amphibians, small mammals, bats and birds.   Species-rich grasslands also provide other environmental benefits including carbon storage, water retention to prevent flooding and habitat for crop pollinators, they are also archaeologically important.

The decline and loss of meadows and species-rich grasslands is without parallel in the history of nature conservation in the UK.  What had been a widespread and ubiquitous part of agriculture and people’s daily lives, disappeared altogether in the space of a single generation.

Alex Raeder, National Trust Conservation Lead said: We know nature is under enormous pressure in the UK – no more so than our wonderful flower filled meadows. The UK’s remaining species-rich grasslands now cover a minute fraction of the area they once did, even relatively recently in the early 20th Century. Today only 2% of the meadows that existed in the 1930’s remain.  Nearly 7.5 million acres of wildflower meadow have been lost so far and they are still being destroyed.’

‘Walking through a meadow in full bloom, humming with insect life, is an enchanting and magical experience, particularly for children. We need to do all we can to make space for nature so future generations can enjoy this too. On National Meadows Day we should all take the time to get out and celebrate our local wildflower meadows,’ he added.

National Trust Meadows Day Events:

Killerton:  Wildflowers such as meadow buttercups, wild carrot, ragged robin and oxeye daisies all thrive in the meadows. The formal garden and the chapel grounds both have meadows that are in a constant cycle. All year, the team of gardeners and volunteers conserve and protect the meadows by managing grass and removing weeds such as brambles, nettles and goose grass to limit competition. To celebrate National Meadows Day, there will be a small number of information cards around the formal garden so visitors can find out more about selected wildflowers in Killerton’s meadows.

A la Ronde has a meadow rich in flora and fauna with a huge variety of insects and butterflies.  Join our experts to find out more about butterflies and moths.  Visitors can spot and identify native species in our wildflower meadow with walks and lots of family friendly activities.

Sutton Lane Meadows, Wiltshire Landscape SN15 4LW: Find out about the wildlife and management of this wonderful and secluded meadow. The day includes guided walks, botanical surveying, free family activities and information from the National Trust Rangers in Wiltshire Landscape. Grid Ref: ST 94962 77585 (pedestrian entrance)

Westhay Farm, accessed from the car park near Stonebarrow Hill, above Charmouth on the Golden Cap Estate:  Discover the special plants which are found here, and the insects and other animals which live in and rely on the meadows. Learn about traditional meadow management and how this can help our meadows to thrive – including a demonstration on scything. Find out about the work we are doing to monitor and protect our meadows. National Trust car park at Stonebarrow Hill, nearest postcode DT6 6RA. Small shop, information point and toilets at Stonebarrow.

Shirehampton Summer wild flower walk – the wild flower meadow at Shirehampton will be looking its best. Full of colour and interest which we will be taking a closer look at on National Meadows Day. Botanist Pam Millman will be taking a wander through this beautiful meadow at Crabtree Slipwood to identify the plants as they show off their blooms. This tucked away site just off the Portway in North Bristol is a lovely spot on a sunny summers day. Suitable for all levels of interest and expertise. Crabtree Slipwood is on the side of the Portway (A4) just past the Sylvan Way traffic lights (if heading out of Bristol centre towards the M5) there is a bollarded lay-by on the left.

Dyrham Park: Celebrate National Meadows Day with us here at Dyrham Park. Join us in our wild flower meadow for storytelling, face-painting, crafts and wildlife challenges.  You’ll find some scything in action as well as experts on hand to show you the different insects, mammals and flowers (up close under a microscope!) that make up a wild flower meadow.  Why not become a wildlife scientist for a day and take part in our bioblitz too.

Lundy Bay near Polzeath in Cornwall:  A 24 hour BioBlitz from 1pm Saturday 2 July to 1pm Sunday 3 July 24 hours finding and recording as much wildlife as we can at Lundy Bay.  Become a wildlife detective by seeking out plants and animals whilst discovering facts about them from the wildlife experts. There will be bug hunting, rockpooling, butterfly hunt, wildflower walk, small mammal discovery, reptile search, bird watching and so much more, all at Lundy Bay near Polzeath, North Cornwall. Whether for an hour or 24, the choice is yours, get involved with as much or as little as you like, but come along and discover the wildlife on your doorstep.

More information on events taking place across the country for National Meadows Day here or for more information on National Trust events including events for National Meadows Day here.

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