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The Meadow Makers come to London
Creation of the 90th new wildflower-rich Coronation Meadow in the heart of the capital
September 06 2016
On 6th September 2016, a team of meadow makers - led by HRH The Prince of Wales - will create the 90th new Coronation Meadow in The Green Park in the very heart of London.
The Coronation Meadows project was launched at Highgrove in 2013 by HRH The Prince of Wales as his tribute to The Queen on the anniversary of Her Majesty's Coronation, with the aim of creating a new meadow in every UK county. The new meadow marks a major milestone in this remarkable project which brings together the people, plants and animals that help to create and maintain our nation’s precious wildflower meadows.
The UK has lost over 97% of its wildflower meadows since the 2nd World War and only tiny fragments of these meadows now survive. In each of 88 counties across the UK, one such ancient meadow has been crowned as that county’s flagship Coronation Meadow. Seed from these ancient Coronation Meadows is now being used to create new Coronation Meadows in the same county, thus preserving the unique character and identity of the original ancient meadows.
A lot of hard work goes into making an authentic wildflower meadow – it’s not as simple as it looks. The meadow makers include:
- The machinery used to harvest the seed from the ancient Coronation Meadows and prepare the ground at the new meadow ready for the seed to be sown.
- The yellow rattle flower, whose roots tap into those of grasses around them, reducing their vigour and thereby giving other wildflowers space to grow.
- The livestock that graze the meadows in autumn and winter, preparing the ground for the season ahead and providing farmers with essential income.
- The volunteers who spread green hay, scatter seed, grow plug plants, count orchids and scythe; they are part of the meadows revival that is now sweeping the country.
And most of all, the farmers and meadow owners, who have a passion to farm their meadows in a way that conserves their rich tapestry of wildflowers and the wildlife they support.
Above: horses from the Royal Parks prepare the ground
All these meadow makers will be in London to help create The Queen’s Meadow, transforming a quiet corner of The Green Park into a hive of activity as the ground is prepared and the local seed arrives. Local children will help scatter the seed, Shire horses will be used to harrow the ground, yellow rattle will be sown and rare breed sheep will be there along with Coronation Meadow owners and volunteers from around the UK. The meadow will be a lasting tribute to Her Majesty the Queen and legacy for future generations to enjoy.
The Coronation Meadows project is a partnership between Plantlife, the Wildlife Trusts and the Rare Breeds Survival Trust. The creation of meadows through the project has been supported with a grant of £1 million from Biffa Award as part of the Landfill Communities Fund, with additional funding from The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation, a gift from Peter Baldwin and Lisbet Rausing, His Grace the Duke of Westminster, Natural Resources Wales, Natural England, Michael Chowen, GrantScape, the Hamamelis Trust and the High Weald Landscape Trust.
Rachel de Thame, Plantlife Vice President and host for the event, says “Coronation Meadows is the largest meadow creation project in the UK and it’s thrilling to see the ambitious challenge ‘sown’ by HRH The Prince of Wales being brought to life."
"But the 90th meadow in London is just the beginning... We want to see the meadows revival reach every community and really start to restore the colour and diversity to our countryside. And it’s not just about the flowers - wonderful meadow plants like ragged-Robin, lady's mantle, burnet saxifrage and eyebright - but the wildlife they sustain."
Above: Scattering the seed - (L-R) Plantlife Botanical Specialist Dr Trevor Dines, Plantlife Chairman Professor David Hill CBE, Rachel de Thame and Plantlife Chief Executive Marian Spain.
"From bees collecting nectar from buttercups to goldfinches feasting on knapweed seeds and common blue butterfly caterpillars eating bird’s-foot-trefoil leaves, if we all do our bit to bring wild flowers back – as I’ve started to do in my own meadow at home – we have a chance to help nature re-build its fragile balance and regain its full glory.”
Gillian French, Biffa Award - Head of Grants says “Coronation Meadows started off with an ambitious premise, and it has been a real pleasure to watch this vision become reality. The Landfill Communities Fund has the potential to help transform British landscapes, and we’re really proud to have been a part of such an exciting project.”