For several years now I have wanted to visit Stockings Meadow, a Herefordshire Wildlife Trust reserve near Bromyard which is good for wild flowers including orchids.
On Saturday, 20th May we finally visited!
The habitat at Stockings Meadow is comprised of unimproved neutral grassland. As the reserve is managed as a hay meadow you are asked to walk only round the edge. The meadow lies on a fairly steep west facing slope leading down to Hackley Brook.
For 40 years the meadow belonged to a nearby farm and it had been managed as a hay meadow with no artificial manures or herbicides used. This habitat management has meant that a rich flora has been retained and the Wildlife Trust are continuing this form of management. The meadow covers about ten acres.
The name "Stockings" suggest that the site was once covered with stocks (ie tree stumps) suggesting that the site was once woodland but was cleared for agricultural use. Earthworks indicating an old road (the A44 which has now been re-routed) can be seen.
Today the meadow is filled with wild flowers from Spring onwards and it is cut for hay in mid to late July. The species change throughout the site depending on the conditions. The marshy area of the old sunken holloway contains plants such as Ragged Robin and Marsh Marigold (sadly I didn't see any of these in flower). Many meadow butterflies and pollinators can be seen on the meadow. The large old hedges and bramble thickets around the site are used as breeding sites by Blackcaps, Garden Warblers and Long Tailed Tits.
Plant species which occur include Common Spotted Orchids, Heath Spotted Orchids, Green Winged Orchids, Cowslips, Yellow Rattle, Wild Angelica, Meadowsweet, Knapweed, Bugle, Marsh Marigold, Devil's Bit Scabious, Sorrel, Meadow Vetchling and Ragged Robin.
There were buttercups galore and loads of Yellow Rattle flowers.
Cowslips were past their best but it must have been a beautiful sight a few weeks ago.
Hawthorn seems to be having an incredibly good year.
Meadow Vetchling I think
At the bottom of the hill there were hundreds, if not thousands, of orchids. Common Spotted, Heath Spotted and hybrids of the two species occur. In a few weeks when they are fully out it will be a beautiful sight.
Cuckoo Flower or Lady's Smock
Me enjoying myself!
We sat in the car and had a late lunch eating the sandwiches and I had a quick look at some of the flowers on the verge in the lane - Greater White Stitchwort, Yellow Archangel and White Dead Nettle along with loads of Cow Parsley. I really don't think you can beat the May Spring flowers.
We decided to stop off for a drink on the way home - we stopped at two local pubs but for various reasons B wasn't keen on either so we ended up at the lovely Fountain Inn in Tenbury Wells.
The pint of Hereford Pale Ale - it was a lovely beer.
I spotted an old Lotus Elan in the car park - gosh I loved these cars years ago but checking out the prices I won't be having one anytime soon! Must admit an open top old sports car preferably an old MGB is something I still hanker after!
Photos taken by me with the Panasonic Lumix FZ330 bridge camera - the one marked *D taken by my son with the Canon SX50HS. I don't particularly rate my photos but if anyone wishes to use one I would be grateful for an email first - thanks.
Reference: Information Board at the Meadow and
Herefordshire Wildlife Trust Guide to Reserves