Meadowland

I recently blogged my time in Romania, a country that still has sprawling meadows crammed with wildflowers. In Britain, we’re not so lucky; 97% of our lowland meadow is gone, swallowed up by the industrialisation of farmland.

The surviving fragments – that 3% – are often small and isolated. But some of those relics are magnificent.

North downs1 110807

Today is National Meadows Day in the UK – a celebration of those bits of wild grassland that we still have. I have some of the best meadows in England on my doorstep, some of which are protected as Sites of Special Scientific Interest or Sites of Nature Conservation Importance. Others are just sitting there, unprotected, which is not the most comfortable feeling.

What lives in them? Everything! Harvest mice, small reptiles, gorgeous butterflies, rare snails, bizarre fungi, and enough insects to befuddle my identification skills. I hardly have space to show all the flowers; a single square metre can host 15 species. Here’s a sample, anyway:

Pyramidal orchid

Pyramidal orchid2 23 Jun 2018

Bee orchid

Bee orchid S Tolls 31 May 2017

Meadow cranesbill

Meadow cranesbill 23 Jun 2018

Field scabious

Field scabious STolls 10 June 2017

Scarlet pimpernel

Scarlet pimpinel STolls 2 June 2017

Perforate St John’s wort

St John's Wort HV 4 Sept 2017

Sainfoin and buttercup

Sainfoin and buttercup 18 May 2017

These are places to walk softly and listen, and be dazzled by the sheer splendour of life.

14 thoughts on “Meadowland

  1. So pretty, esp. love the bee orchid. Prairie restorations are happening sporadically on our midwestern plains (US) as awareness grows. Systems are complex and once broken may never be the same, but it is worth trying!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Eliza. Yes, it’s difficult to put ecosystems back together but always worth trying! The UK has very little ancient, unmodified habitat (either woodland or grassland) but the fragments that do remain are very rich in biodiversity. One of the biggest problems here is that the old system of farming subsidies effectively encouraged destruction of such sites, but that has now been changed to pay farmers to conserve them instead.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Indeed – to paraphrase the old saying, sometimes we don’t know what we have until we’ve almost destroyed it. But yes, the policies are getting better and hopefully future generations will see more farmland flowers and wildlife.

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    1. Hi Eva, thanks 🙂 Yes, it is very hot and dry in the UK too. This is the driest summer that I’ve ever seen in England – the ground is like iron and there’s still no rain in sight. There have been serious wildfires up north. The wildflowers are still doing their best but have finished earlier than usual. I would love a nice day of gentle rain.

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  2. Farming and industrialization are breaking a balance that existed for thousands of years. Now, we are getting more and more aware of the importance of that balance. Hopefully, the world awareness will prevail corporate interests and profit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The message is gradually being heard. The environment is unusually high up the British political agenda right now and farmland wildflowers and wildlife may be one of the biggest winners in that. I have some cautious hope.

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