"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 28 May 2023

Herefordshire 2023 (4) - Part 2: Stockings Meadow


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

Germander Speedwell

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


Bovey Belle said...

I had a boyfriend with a Lotus Elan once - just that colour too. Went well until I found he was already married!

Glad you got to the wild flower meadow. It sounds like it needs to be visited in April, May AND June to get a spread of the flowers which proliferate there. The Orchids looked wonderful. I agree with you about the vergeside flowers - May is the best month for them. The Hawthorn is AMAZING this year - think it is having its own "mast year".

The Quacks of Life said...

loved all the flowers.... the buttercups are looking good at the moment.

Wye Valley is a good brewery

waves at Timothy

Ragged Robin said...

Bovey Belle - Thanks so much. Yes I went out with someone too with a yellow Lotus Elan although he wasn't married. He did like the high life though took me to some very expensive places. In the end I couldn't keep up with his ex girlfriend who was a model!!!
I agree the meadow worth visits over several months. Hawthorn has been superb - so many people saying on twitter its been the best year ever for it.

The Quacks of Life - Thanks so much Pete. Seems a good year for buttercups as well as Hawthorn! :)

The beer was superb. Bought a few bottles from Tesco.

Rosie said...

What a lovely place with so many interesting wild flowers. You will have to return to see the orchids at their best. We noticed whilst traveling this week that the hedgerows and fields are looking wonderful. Fields of buttercups and verges full of cow parsley and hedges bedecked with hawthorn blossom all so beautiful. The beer looks refreshing after a sunny walk:)

Rustic Pumpkin said...

What a wonderful treasure of a place to visit! No wonder you've longed to go there. I hope you are watching Countryfile this evening, there's a remarkable old lady on there in Upper Teesdale who is protecting wild flowers, Dr M.E. Bradshaw MBE. She even has a tree named after her!
An MGB was my first car!!!
Lovely to see you, and of course Timothy too!

Ragged Robin said...

Rosie - Thanks so much and I agree the hedgerows and verges and fields are all looking wonderful at the moment.

Rustic Pumpkin - Thanks so much. The meadow was even better than I hoped :) No missed Countryfile - will catch it on i player although I have heard of the Upper Teesdale meadows.
OOH! An mgb for a first car so envious - mine was a mini!!!

The Wessex Reiver said...

I've long struggled (while studying agriculture 30+ years ago) with the concept of "improved grassland". Which simply means everything is removed other than productive grass species. To my way of thinking improved grasslands are such as that meadow at Stockings, full of wild flowers as well as grass. It's such a shame these meadows aren't the norm today. Though I have to say I've seen more buttercups in fields this year than for a long time. Is the tide turning? I was going to buy a MG Midget when I was 18, but my parents talked me out of it (I got my deposit back) and instead I opted for a sensible nearly new Austin Metro which to be fair lasted for 113,000 before it literally fell apart on a rural road near Evesham. I still hanker for a MG but not sure I'd get in or out of a Midget these days :-)

Ragged Robin said...

The Wessex Reiver - Thanks so much. The huge loss of wild flower meadows such as Stockings is very sad. My son was asking me at Stockings why so many had disappeared and I said I think it was because of the introduction of silage and possibly development. In the past I've been to an open day at a meadow near Shirley Solihull looked after by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust but only a remnant remains - a huge Tesco and nursery cover what was once a large meadow.

I too have seen many buttercups especially in Herefordshire.

After my mini I had two Metros too which I ran into the ground but none had as many miles as yours! lol! I am not sure I would get in a MG easily these days either. I know we hired OH a Lotus Super 7 for the day when he was 60. I managed to get in but I chickened out of driving it!!

Millymollymandy said...

Keith had a black MGB soon after we got together and it was great fun to go out and about in. At one point we managed four of us in it (wouldn't be allowed these days!!!), only because there was a train strike and we were going with a friend to Heathrow to say goodbye to her, along with another friend. The good thing about the MGB was the large boot area where people could lie down curled up in the back! :-)

I love proper hay meadows - we see a lot of them here. This meadow has a really good mix of wildflowers and (yay I found the post!) orchids - guessing the pale pink one is the Heath Spotted? It's really pretty.

Ragged Robin said...

MillyMollyMandy - Thanks so much. Dealing with comments backwards just realised you have seen orchid post:) To be honest Mandy I think Common Spotted and Heath Spotted very similar - something different I think about patterns of the flowers themselves. Not good enough at orchid id to be sure!
You are lucky to have so many proper hay meadows in France we have lost so many over here. Although we did find a lovely wild flower meadow yesterday. Will eventually do a post! So many posts behind and I don't like post every day.
I went out with a boy who had an austin healey sprite and I remember once crouching in the back behind the seats when he gave a friend a lift! This must have been before the days of compulsory seat belts!!!! MGB's are my favourite - its that distinctive exhaust noise!!!!!