Winter Management Training and Seedling Safari 2023

A very big thank you to Jocelyn, Charlie and Sarah Finnigan who hosted this year’s seedling safari and winter meadow management training day at Homme House in Much Marcle

Jocelyn, Charlie and Sarah have restored 5ha of species poor grassland using funds very generously provided by the Woolhope Dome Environment Trust and brush harvested seed from Plantlife’s Joans Hill Farm and another Local Wildlife Site grassland in the Parish.

After an introduction to the site itself we discussed the restoration methods used, five passes with a stubble rake in this instance, to open up the grass dominated sward and create enough bare earth before the introduction of the donor seed.

We then discussed the importance of keeping the sward open over the first winter and discussed the different methodologies for achieving this; both through grazing and mechanical means. The key message is to take the seedling’s eye view and think about how to maximise the availability of the three essential things needed for germination; light, air and water.

Grazing needs to be monitored carefully to avoid unwanted soil damage through poaching if conditions get too wet in the winter, and also to ensure that any livestock is removed the following spring before they start eating desirable wildflower seedlings, in particular yellow rattle which is an annual.

Split into two groups, attendees then had a go at identifying some of the early seedlings already emerging. The following desirable broad-leaved herbs were recorded:

Common mouse-ear, meadow buttercup, dandelion, red clover, self heal, common sorrel, lesser trefoil, common bird’s foot trefoil.

We then talked about less desirable species, how the risks of these germinating can also increase following grassland restoration works, and when and how is the best time to control them. Selective spot spraying or mechanical removal is suggested during the autumn and early spring while the plants are active and, in the case of spot spraying, when the livestock have been removed.

If you want to have a go at some seedling ID yourself here is a link to our Wildflower seedling ID chart