The GNS field meeting at Hyde Mill, Stow on the Wold, on 3 July examined the superb flower meadow there.
Hugh and Rosie Tollemache, the landowners, met us and explained some of its history. It had previously been used as a school playing-field and was tight-grazed horse-pasture when they took over the farm 12 years ago. To their knowledge it had never been ploughed or had any agricultural inputs. After seeing how orchids appeared on their adjacent lawns once mowing was reduced they altered the management of this field to a meadow regime with an annual hay cut in late July or early August, but it took five years to become the spectacularly rich meadow we see today.
The haze of flowers and grass resolves into the cream of meadowsweet, maroon of great burnet, yellow of trefoils, blue of vetch and devil’s bit scabious, purple of orchids and knapweed and much much more. In the brief evening meeting Anna Field, the leader, showed us some 90 plant species, none of which had been deliberately introduced, but had come from natural spread of propagules from within the field and its surrounds.
This field is accessible to the public and can be visited throughout the year, grid reference SP177243. It is one of the outstanding wildflower meadows round the country, at least one per county, on the Coronation Meadows register. A bridleway runs through it, and permissive paths have been mown allowing access to other parts. See https://coronationmeadows.org.uk/meadow/hyde-mill-meadow-stow-on-the-wold for more detail.
To see it in full flower you will need to get there within the month as soon the essential annual hay cut will take place. All credit to farmers who maintain such lovely places.
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