We are now in the fifth spring of our meadow renovation and we are reaping the rewards of all the hard work that has been done over the past few years.

We can now confidently call this a wild flower meadow and we have noted over 40 different species of wild flower all of which were waiting in the ground to be given the chance to thrive with the correct management. Our only addition was the yellow rattle to thin the denser areas of grass.

Each year we have discovered something new and last year we were delighted to see orchids emerge for the first time in different areas of the meadow. In May the Northern Marsh orchid, Dactylorhiza purpurella popped up followed in June by the Common Spotted Orchid, Dactylorhiza fuchsii. It was fantastic to see these as it signalled that the meadow is doing well.

We have had to adapt through the years to manage the mowing of the meadow. Last summer was particularly challenging as it rained endlessly through July and August. The farmers were struggling to fulfil all their mowing obligations and as our meadow is small and not of great value we were not a priority so the meadow went past the point where it should have been cleared. We therefore had a lot of long but collapsed grass that needed to be quickly reduced. To deal with this we had a flock of 30 sheep on the land for a few weeks to clear the grass. A lot more than our usual small group of ten.

It will be interesting to see how this different approach has affected the meadow as it grows this summer. It wasn’t an ideal scenario and the land hasn’t looked as good through this winter with the hummocks of uneaten grass left behind by the sheep and the abundance of sheep droppings which are a tasty snack for our terrier puppy.

It is April now and things are starting to grow well, we can see the yellow rattle appearing and the grass now has a lovely green hue. Our hope is that we will see more orchids this year and that the abundance of flowers on the south side of the meadow will have started to advance into the grassy areas which have been thinned by the yellow rattle.

Last summer we were pleased to see a great increase in the number of field scabious. This is such a beautiful wildflower and it was doing well on the thin soil on the south side of our hill, by last summer it had appeared around the top of the hill creating a lovely drift of purple. We collected some of the seed and distributed it in the lower areas of the meadow to help with its distribution.

Last year we also mowed some paths through the long grass to allow us to wander through the meadow without trampling the delicate flowers. The paths also create attractive vistas through the swaying grass and a bench nestled on the hillside is a lovely vantage point.

Each year there is something new to learn and there is always work to be done but it is such an enjoyable place to be it is certainly worth the effort.