Winter Departures – no, we didn’t head for the sun

This winter has been a bit of a departure from the norm for the staff and volunteer team. We left the woods and headed for the fields mainly focusing on the SITA Trust funded project at The Dranges.

Woodland managementThat’s not to say we haven’t been in the woods at all this winter. We have been carrying out the usual maintenance work, fencing repairs, site risk and hazard tree assessments and we also did 1.7ha of coppicing in the Bishopston Valley as a contract from National Trust.

One of the tasks which had been bugging me since last summer was that we had missed the late summer cut on the meadow at Elizabeth & Rowe Harding Reserve. Our intention had been to cut the meadow with scythes, it is just the right size to tackle in a day but wet weather on planned work party days scuppered our attempts. One thing led to another and the cut was missed.

meadow management Elizabeth and Rowe Harding nature reserveWhen I first got to know this meadow seven years ago it was head high with bramble, bracken and blackthorn due to a lack of appropriate management. Five years ago this was the first task tackled when we re-established the regular volunteer work days. We started with a late spring and late summer cut & rake to restore the grassland and after restoration we reduced the input to just one cut & rake in late summer. Now if I let an annual cut be missed the volunteers would not forgive me.

A window of opportunity presented itself to mechanically cut the meadow in February and a good day with the volunteers raking will mean the meadow survives scrub free for another summer.

We hope to broadcast some Yellow Rattle seeds here to reduce the dominance of the vigorous grasses and improve the quality of the wildflower meadow.