Swardeston Common – Wildflower Meadow Management

Friday 14th August 2015

Today we had another return visit to Swardeston Common, to cut back an area of grassland, which is rich with wild flowers. Our work will encourage more wildflowers to germinate, by removing this year’s growth and keeping the nutrient levels low.

The task was to cut back the meadow area with a reciprocal mower, then gather the rows of cut grass into mounds by raking. We then moved the piles of grass, by hand, to a compost heap at the edge of the meadow.

Mowing 4

All sounds very easy, however, the grass was heavy because it was wet and hadn’t been able to dry out to be hay; the weather was humid and warm in the sun. This combination made the going hard work, so drink stops were very welcome, where homemade flapjack and scones (courtesy of fellow volunteers) were offered round.

mowing 3

After a lunch break we continued and managed to cut and gather about half of the area, to be cut, (so another visit will be required to finish the job) before we all ran out of puff, so we called it a day.

In the afternoon we did also manage to do some path clearing with the mower, but again that needs a lot more work. The grass, nettles and other plants have had a bumper year this spring and summer for growth; a lot more work to be done, not just here but at all the sites we work at.

This is the 3rd  successive year we have cut and cleared this site and we can now see that all the hard work has been worth it. The range of plants has increased and the amount of Orchids coming through has been a special treat to see.

Written by Alan Rae, Norwich Fringe Project Volunteer