For those of us who love wildflowers, painful decisions are needed in July and August as this is the time to cut our wildflower meadows, whether in the churchyard or elsewhere. Meadows are left to grow long for about 14 weeks during the spring and summer and then cut with scythe or strimmer and raked up. The difficulty arises in that there are always lovely flowers still there when the cut comes, and it is hard to cut them down.
To help with this dilemma, remember that we are copying traditional hay-making, which takes place when grass is still green, vigorous and full of nutrients for stock to eat, but also when the weather is likely to be dry enough to make hay successfully.
But what about the seeds, dropping to the ground for next year’s flowers? If we cut down flowers, there won’t be seeds? Actually, most species within a traditional meadow are perennial, so they continue to grow from year to year regardless of seeding. This explains why the wildflowers persist in short mown grass in churchyards, providing the grass cuttings are removed so the soil doesn’t become too rich for them.
An exception to this is Yellow Rattle which is an annual so grows each year anew from seed. This flowers early and drops its seed in June or early July so won’t be lost from the sward by cutting from mid-July onwards.
If you can’t bear to cut down late flowering species such as scabious, then leave these patches for later, but do aim to have other meadow areas cut, raked and ready for the autumn fungi by mid-August if you can.
All the best
Diocesan Churchyard Environmental Advisor, email@example.com,
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