TV presenter and naturalist Simon King is recreating some of the finest wildflower meadow in the county thanks to a helping-hand from Somerset Wildlife Trust.
A rich wildlife habitat is being created
Wildflower meadows are amongst the most threatened habitats in the UK and Simon has joined forces with The Wildlife Trust to help halt this decline. Using seed harvested from Somerset Wildlife Trust’s Chancellor’s Farm Nature Reserve, on the Mendip Hills, a rich wildlife habitat is being created at Simon’s home in east Somerset.
On Thursday, September 5 Simon was joined by Jake Chant from the Trust’s Mendip Living Landscape team to sow the wildflower seed which will begin to germinate in autumn and be in full bloom next summer. The seed mix includes wildflowers and grasses such as black knapweed, yellow rattle, bluebell and sweet vernal grass. These flowers and grasses will increase the biodiversity of the meadow and support a rich array of insect life the building blocks for a strong and diverse eco-system.
An astonishing change
Simon King, Patron of Somerset Wildlife Trust and President of The Wildlife Trusts, said: "In just over two years of careful grassland management, I have witnessed an astonishing change to the meadows around my home in Somerset. What was green desert now dances to the paper ballet of marbled white, skipper and blue butterflies. With assistance and the wildflower seed donation from Somerset Wildlife Trust I am looking forward to an even greater diversity of life in our local grassland over the coming years."
The seed mix was harvested from Chancellor’s Farm, which was crowned Somerset’s Coronation Meadow in June. Coronation Meadows are outstanding examples of wildflower meadows that are being used as ‘source meadows’ to provide seed for meadow restorations. Chancellor’s Farm, is owned by the Wessex Reserves Forces and Cadet Association and is at the centre of the Mendip Hills AONB. After 20-years of careful husbandry by Somerset Wildlife Trust the meadow is home to some 180 species of flowering plant attracting wildlife including barn owl, greater horseshoe bat, adder, spotted flycatcher, dark green fritillary and chimney sweeper moth.
Restoration projects to increase biodiversity
Jake Chant, from Somerset Wildlife Trust, said: ”Somerset’s wildflower meadows are not only beautiful and historic places they are also vital to the survival of a whole range of wildlife. Restoring and linking these grasslands through restoration projects to increase biodiversity will help ensure the future of some of our most treasured species such as the chalkhill blue butterfly. “
The Coronation Meadows Partnership
Launched by HRH The Prince of Wales in June The Coronation Meadows Partnership is made up of Plantlife, The Wildlife Trusts and the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.
Plantlife’s Dan Merrett of the Coronation Meadows Project added: “With the UK having lost 97% of its wildflower meadows since the 1930s it’s great that Simon is doing his bit to help reverse the trend, and, importantly, that through the Wildlife Trust he has done this using seed from a surviving Somerset meadow to keep the local distinctiveness of the wildflower mix.”
Watch a short film of Simon & Jake
You can watch a four minute film of Simon and Jake explaining more about the restoration project on our YouTube channel http://ow.ly/oJr7j