Wapley Bushes Conservation Group title

The Lower Meadow

Starting from the northern corner of the wood near the railway bridge, we head north-east across the meadow towards the far corner. This is a neutral, well-drained grassland which is seen as a flower-rich hay meadow, over 90 species having been recorded altogether.

This diversity is maintained by the traditional management of a hay meadow and the absence of chemical use unlike in a modern, intensively farmed field where the nutrient level is kept artificially high by the application of fertilisers leading to the overdominance of one or two favoured grass species.

Particular species of interest include dyer's greenweed and saw-wort, both unusual in the area, and both indicate an unploughed, chemically unimproved, neutral grassland. Cowslips are also abundant in the spring. The field is managed by hay cutting in late July or early August. This allows the spring and early summer and so ensures their survival in following years. This helps protect the vulnerable wild flowers, by preventing the stronger grasses and herbs from taking over.

Lots of different flowers lead to many kinds of insects, which feed off and pollinate them. The insects are then eaten by many birds and small mammals, such as voles, which in turn are preyed upon by sparrowhawks, foxes and other large carnivores at the top of the food chain.