We decided to make the most of the beautiful weather at Woodchester Park recently and whilst the saying is ‘make hay whilst the sun shines’ we decided to take a wildflower seed collection whilst the sun was beaming down and the weather was fine.
Collecting and sowing the wildflower seed at Woodchester Park is a very important part of the conservation work that we are currently undertaking. In the 19th century the lakes were surrounded by fields but in the 1950’s these areas were planted up with trees such as European Larch and Norway Spruce by a commercial forestry company. Due to this happening over the last 22 years since the National Trust have owned the Park, we have been carefully removing trees, most recently areas in the middle of the Park. This has not only opened up views but also allows us to restore the grassland that was lost.
The decision was made to restore these areas to working hay meadows as Woodchester Mansion is home to a large Greater Horseshoe bat roost. Creating these hay meadows will provide a food source for the bats as the meadows will be grazed by our tenant farmers cattle, therefore increasing the amount of insects which the bats will feed off and hopefully increasing their numbers. Also, it links in very well with the national project, Save Our Magnificent Meadows which aims to restore meadows across the country. Their aim is to restore 6,000 hectares of hay meadows across the country whilst giving people an opportunity to enjoy and learn more about them.
Traditionally wildflower seed would have been collected by hand using men.
Fortunately for us a seed harvesting machine has been invented, so for large areas this takes considerably less time and volunteers are certainly thankful for the invention. We are also lucky in that we have a flat field with a diverse flower sward in which to harvest from containing plants such as; Red Clover, Yellow Rattle, Oxeye Daisy and Cowslips.
Hopefully this gives you more of an insight about why we are carrying out the seed collection work and we look forward to telling you more about it next week.
Area Ranger, Woodchester Park