Virtual Seedling Safari – 16th April 2020- with Matt Pitts of Plantlife

Thanks to everyone who joined the virtual safari on a sunny afternoon from home offices on 16th April 2020 while we are unable to meet on farm as a Group .

The silver lining is that we were able to visit many more meadows in one afternoon than would have been possible otherwise. We ranged across Herefordshire from Shenmore, Madley, Peterchurch and Titley to Colwall , Avenbury, Bringsty, Mathon and down to Ross on Wye.  You sent us a great selection of photos from meadows where seed was introduced in 2019 as well as others that have been restored patiently over many years and yet more who are making plans for 2020.

strip harrowed July 2019 still visible April 2020 after winter grazing

bare ground and establishing seedlings


yellow rattle pushing up among ****** yellow composite leaves april 2020

Matt Pitts organised these into a slide show and each of the safari hosts was able to explain their restoration method and over winter management and also ask questions for Plantlife advisers Matt Pitts and Cath Shellswell to discuss. Topics that came up included strong grass regrowth this spring, the need for continuing weed control, the advantages of using suitably adapted breeds of livestock or other mechanical or chemical means until they settle down in the new sward. Some sites are balancing grazing and mowing and cutting may still be an option in the next couple of weeks. In which case the importance of carting away the cuttings, keeping the cutter height ABOVE any yellow rattle seedlings was stressed. We also talked about the amount of moss that has grown during this very wet winter and the role of late summer harrowing after hay making to help keep enough bare ground for 2020 flower seeds to fall onto overwinter in the first few years of a new meadow’s life.

The same challenge occurs in all grassland being enhanced whether by introduced seed or seed from existing meadow plants shed during hay making. The basic principles are summed up in this Plantlife leaflet

For details of how to get the best results see Matt Pitt’s summary of key points for management in years 1 and 2 after restoration Post Restoration Management

Yellow rattle seedling

The Resources page has links to really useful guidance and summaries of what we discussed on the safari

Please do keep taking photos of your meadow over the summer – a series of photos from the same point in the field is a great record for you to keep and if you want help with plant and seedling ID please take close up photos with the phone / camera horizontal following this guidance 

There is a recording of this session for anyone who missed it and the slides are available here