Like Finding a Flower in a Haystack

Last week saw the commencement of our annual hay cut. First off, the three meadows over at Swan Lake Park.

One of the biggest reasons we deploy this practice every year is to improve the diversity of the wildflower population on our sites. Throughout the year, we generally leave the wildflowers and grass to grow until late July, when we begin the hay cut. This typically goes on until around mid-September and then it’s back to growing.

We cut the meadows using our tractor and hopper on large sites and our pedestrian mower and fantastic volunteers for the rest.

A large red tractor mowing the meadow.

Keep an eye out for this tractor, mowing a site near you!

Once mowed, the cuttings are collected and removed in order to starve the soil of nutrients. The reason for this is that it mimics the old farming techniques that wildflowers have become accustomed to. By doing so, we continue to encourage the wildflowers which also means more insects like bees and butterflies for you to see.

A half mown meadow and the back of a tractor.

Nearly done!

The process of changing an area from grass dominated to wildflower dominated requires great patience as it occurs over the course of a few years. None the less, keep an eye out in your local meadow for the emergence of new flora. You never know, you might come across something you’ve never seen before!

Acting Ranger Jenny

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About blackwatervalleycountryside

The Blackwater Valley is located on the borders of Hampshire, Surrey and Berkshire and runs for approximately 30km from the source near Aldershot, northwards to Swallowfield. At its confluence it joins the rivers Whitewater and Loddon. The Loddon eventually flows into the River Thames near Reading. Work in the Blackwater Valley is co-ordinated by the Blackwater Valley Countryside Partnership on behalf of the local authorities that border the Valley. Despite being surrounded by urban development the Valley provides an important green corridor for local residents As well as the Blackwater Valley Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a small part of the Basingstoke Canal SSSI, three nature reserves within the Valley catchment and many other areas have been recognised for their ecological importance. The local planning authorities covering the Valley have designated 31 other areas as ‘Wildlife Sites’.
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