"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Sunday, 12 June 2011

An Ancient Hay Meadow

I sepnt a lovely hour yesterday afternoon wandering around Monkspath Meadow - an ancient hay meadow. The Meadow is a Site of Special Scientific Interest owned by Notcutts Garden Centre and managed under the supervision of English Nature. It is only open to the public, under the helpful guidance of Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, for a couple of weekends each year usually during June when the orchids are at their best.

The meadow supports 150 species of flora, including various grass species, commonly found in old meadows, marshland and ancient woodland, such as Dyer's Greenweed, Meadow Thistle, Saw-wort, Heath Grass, Heath and Common Spotted Orchids.

I took quite a lot of photos with varying degrees of success - how I still hanker after a macro lens!

The real highlight for me was the number of Heath Spotted Orchids in various shades of pink or white.

Quaking Oat Grass - the camera had a bit of a nervous breakdown with this species trying to focus!

Devil's bit Scabious


Orchids and Yellow Rattle


Great Burnet

Meadow Buttercup

A profusion of Great Burnet, Scabious, Yellow Rattle and Meadow Buttercup

Yellow Rattle

Common Sorrel

Lesser Stitchwort

Orchids, Burnet and Yellow Rattle

Heath Spotted Orchid

Small Heath, Meadow Brown and Common Blue butterflies plus Chimney Sweep Moth occur here but I didn't see any Lepidoptera yesterday probably due to the cloudy weather conditions and threatening rain.

According to a leaflet about the Meadow in 1986 before the Garden Centre was rebuilt and a superstore built on site a further 2.5 acres of ancient meadow existed. Volunteers from the local Wildlife Trust removed 9 inch deep turves of this meadow and relocated them to a new site at Temple Balsall. Although most species have now re-appeared the attempted relocation is not considered a success as the dominance has been changed.

It was a beautiful meadow to visit but a sad reminder that up until the middle of last century much of Warwickshire and other parts of England would have been covered in meadows full of wildflowers just like this one. We have paid a very high price due to agricultural intensification and road and housing developments.


Rob said...

That looks like an amazingly species-rich meadow - thanks for the tour.

Ragged Robin said...

Many thanks Rob. Its such a pity its only open for such a short period of time as I would love to go back and see what else is in flower. Glad you are blogging again - I've so missed reminders of how beautiful the Isle of Wight is :D.