Swardeston Common – Hay Meadow Cutting

Friday 5th August 2016

Summer must be here now, because today we are cutting hay meadows on Swardeston Common. Correctly speaking the meadow was cut yesterday by the Thursday team and today the task is to collect all the cut grass and pile it into habitat piles around the perimeter of the meadow. Hard and thirsty work in the sunshine.

Other work to be done today is to cut back all the overgrown paths. This is done with either brush cutters or motor mower. Most of this work is done on what I believe the locals call ‘the lower common’ and a path through a wooded area on ‘the upper common’.

Swardeston Common Mowing
Mowing and brushcutting the paths around the common and ponds situated within Swardeston Common.

Swardeston Common is split into two distinct areas, (the lower and upper areas) in a way that they connect at a junction of two lanes. The ‘upper common’ is home to the cricket club and village hall on a large green which includes the cricket square. The ‘lower common’ was in the recent past used for grazing cattle for a dairy farmer (but that farm no longer exists) and this part of the common has been left to grow wild and managed in a small way to prevent it becoming too overgrown. The lower common is where the meadow cutting was done and as reported in previous blogs, every time this cutting is done, the following year yields more and more wild flowers. Let us hope then that 2017 will bring another profusion of colour on this meadow.

Swardeston Common Wildflowers 2016
Some of the plants surveyed this year where the Norwich Fringe Project had mowed the previous year. From left to right, Adders Tongue Fern (Ophioglossum vulgatum), White Campion (Silene latifolia) and Twayblade (Neottia ovata).

As for the paths, the plant growth this year has been so rampant that if path clearing had not been done at this time, some of the paths would soon have been made impassable by bramble and blackthorn bushes.

Written by Alan Rae, Norwich Fringe Project Volunteer.