The grasses and plants on the field already have some diversity. 50 + species were recorded by Ashley in his report. This in no way makes a meadow, it is still very much “improved grassland” (grassland with some fertiliser added to make richer pasture/hay), but it gives us something to work with.
We plan to leave much of the existing grass and wildflowers, cutting some of it short and regularly for recreation and paths, and the rest of it once a year, like hay. Some of the grass is to be cut early, and some late. This promotes different species, since some flower early and others later in the year.
Making a meadow by cutting:
Every cut and collect, you take away nutrients from the soil; this is what we want so flowers have the upper hand over grass (grass and nettles rule in rich soil). We need the hay cut and collected every year if we have any chance of creating something like a meadow.
We don’t expect this kind of meadow for decades from cutting alone, but we will see gradually more flowers over time as long as the hay is cut and collected and taken off site.
Last year we pulled out ragwort in an effort to gradually make the hay an attractive resource: ragwort is poisonous to horses, and we need someone to cut and bale without having to be paid by the parish.
We felt sorry for the cinnabar caterpillars we found there, so moved them to another site full of ragwort!