Meadows are the essence of the English Countryside
says Michele Bowe, Head of Conservation Policy and Strategy at Somerset Wildlife Trust
Somerset is a county blessed with a wonderful variety of landscapes and complex geology, and our meadows and grasslands are wonderfully diverse as a result.
Traditional wild flower meadows and grasslands buzzing with insects and filled with glorious skylark song are, for many of us, the picture of the quintessential English countryside; evident in our long and equally rich heritage of poetry, plays, art and music. The colours, sounds and scents of meadows make for a wonderful tonic and really make my spirit soar.
My favourite wild flower meadow has to be Chancellor’s Farm Somerset Wildlife Trust’s only working farm - located in the Mendip hills near Wells. The meadows are truly outstanding, having remained virtually undisturbed from agricultural improvement in their long history. Some 180 flowering species occur here, with new finds spotted all the time. In June at the height of the flowering season, the meadows are bright with the purple of betony. Many orchid species flourish in the ancient meadows, and in spring, carpets of bluebells cover many areas; a spectacular sight.
The combination of flower-rich meadows in this picturesque rural landscape with old farm buildings, dry stone walls, ponds, tree groups and grazing rare breed cattle has a nostalgic feel, and is a fantastic example of the very special relationship that can be shared by man and beast in partnership with nature.
Chancellor’s Farm has a very important role to play in the future of Somerset’s meadow landscapes. Last year the reserve gained royal recognition as Somerset’s Coronation Meadow, and will be used as a ‘source meadow’ to provide seed for the restoration of new meadows in the county; helping to secure Somerset’s wild flower heritage for the next 60 years.
Somerset Wildlife Trust is working hard to restore and reconnect flower-rich grasslands across the Mendip hills to recreate once again the rich tapestry of habitat through which wildlife can move and thrive, alongside a vibrant rural community that still produces the famous milk, yoghurt and cheese products that Somerset is so rightly proud of.
Please make a donation today to help Somerset Wildlife Trust to make this vision a reality.
Love barn owls?
Barn owls survive and thrive in areas of rough grassland that can sustain good numbers of field voles and other small mammals for them to feed on. You can help to increase the amount of grassland and meadow habitat for barn owls by supporting our Love Somerset, Love Meadows appeal.
Donate by text
If you would prefer to donate to our meadows appeal using your mobile, you can do so by texting SEED30 and the amount you would like to give to 70070. For example, to donate £20, text 'SEED30 £20' to 70070.
Thank you for helping us keep Somerset special for wildlife and people for years to come.
Things to do...
Saving Somerset's Magnificent Meadows
The fortunes of Somerset’s stunning wildflower meadows are set to be transformed with a new project on the Mendip Hills, being delivered by Somerset Wildlife Trust in its 50th anniversary year. Click here for more information.
Visiting Wildflower Meadows
There’s a danger of lethargy in the volley of stories about wildlife in danger but the loss of 97% of hay meadows, in the last century, is one that deserves our attention. In Somerset we are fortunate to have nature reserves where the riches of hay meadows, properly managed by the Trust, can still be enjoyed. Click here for more information.
Barn Owl Project
Keep an eye on Boris and Brenda and there ever increasing brood in our nestbox webcam, as well as learning about barn owls, playing our online game and seeing if you could host a next box. Click here for more information.
Plan a trip
If you're planning a trip to one of our beautiful meadows, why not download one of our useful PDF guides. Giving you details of what you can see and when. We have guides for Babcary Meadows, Draycott Sleights and Edford Meadows.
Photo credits: Betony ©Matthew Marshall | mjmarshall.co.uk, Long Wood Reserve, Thurlbear ©Matthew Marshall | mjmarshall.co.uk,King's Castle ©Neil Watson, Great Breach Wood ©Bob Osborn, Quants