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.
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.
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