Our Wildlife FieldThe field is managed to encourage local wildlife and bio-diversity.
Retrospective on the last Seven Years
When the wildlife field became a reality in 2011 there were three actions planned which have shaped the project over the following years. The first was to cut a circular footpath from the Hall towards the hospital car park and back again. Two ponies had exclusive access to the field up to 2005 but their departure allowed nature to begin the process of succession to woodland and by 2011 almost a fifth of the field was covered with scrub, mainly grey poplar suckers - some already young trees - and blackthorn.
The major task that year was the removal of this scrub and the planting of a new hedge along the southern border of the field. 150 young whips, 50 hazel, 50 hawthorn and 50 blackthorn ( sloe ) were planted and a very wet April gave them a perfect welcome. Several bonfires of cut scrub were needed and the resulting scars of scorched earth were dug over and converted into island beds of mainly perennials with additional annuals to add variety. A decision was made to leave the meadow and discover what, in addition to many grasses, it would yield in native wild flowers. In that first year there was a remarkable show of cow parsley and meadow buttercup and early summer was a blaze of white and yellow. By the end of June the show was over, grasses dominated and the meadow looked very tired, almost drab, as summer moved towards autumn. That was key to the decision to grow native wild flowers such as ox-eye daisies, purple knapweeds, and bird's-foot trefoils and plant them in the meadow after the autumn cut when huge amounts of hay were raked and cleared.
The success of this approach has produced a huge increase of the numbers of butterflies and other insects and a colourful show of meadow flowers from spring to autumn. The changes over seven years have been remarkable and the plans for the next seven years are just as exciting.