Neptune Wood Meadow Closure 17th May

Please read the following announcement from Earth Trust:

The wildflower meadow at Neptune Wood is carpeted in yellow Cowslips at the moment, a welcome sign of Spring!  Cowslips are one of many wildflower species once common in hay meadows which have declined due to habitat loss and changes in how the land is managed.

We manage this meadow using a mix of traditional methods.  One year in three we cut the meadow for hay in mid-summer, after the majority of wildflowers have sown their seeds and then graze it late in the year in order to keep the late summer grasses down.  This keeps the grass (or sward) cropped short and means that Spring flowers like the Cowslips can get lots of light early in the year.  This cutting and removing of the hay also keeps nutrient levels in the soil low, that is because the delicate wildflowers we are looking to encourage can grow very well in these conditions, whereas the more competitive grasses, nettles and thistles will struggle.

For the other two out of three years we use livestock to achieve these same aims but this year we will be taking a hay cut.

Because of this management the wildflower meadow will be closed from the 17th May until the hay is cut.  That cutting is very weather dependant but should be towards the end of July / early August.  Please bear with us and keep an eye on the Earth Trust Facebook page for updates.

The hay is a crop, it is used as food for the livestock over the winter when the grass is not growing.  This fodder can be contaminated by dog mess which carries Neospora Caninum, a parasite which can survive long after dog mess has decomposed and causes abortions in sheep and cattle.  By closing the meadow prior to hay cutting taking place we are trying to reduce that risk.

Whilst the meadow is closed please make the most of our footpaths around the site, Neptune Wood and the walk up to the Arboretum is a favourite of mine.

Thank you for your understanding.

Tim Read
Senior Warden.

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