One of our landscape architects came across the North and South Meads owned by Wolfson College, Oxford, while on a site visit. These meadows are designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and are relics of Marston’s medieval farming system. There is no evidence to suggest that they have ever been ploughed or treated with pesticides or fertilisers. They are managed traditionally, with a cut for hay near the end of June, then left for cattle to graze upon between the 1st August (Lammas Day) and the 2nd November (All Souls Day), resulting in a wonderful flowery meadow. The hedges are managed for birds and small mammals, whilst the grass edge on the field boundary is left uncut benefiting populations of butterflies.
In the first photo you can see lines of greater knapweed Centaurea scabiosa, as it appears they prefer to grow along the existing trails of the ridge and furrows. The second photo shows patches of lady’s bedstraw Gallium verum amongst other diverse plants. These meadows are providing a haven for wildlife with plenty of birds, butterflies, bees and other insects being spotted.