Yellow Rattle helps make a meadow

Yellow Rattle helps make a meadow

Published: 21 September 2017

Sharpham gardeners and volunteers are sowing the seeds for a new meadow - and richer biodiversity - along the South Lawn.

Our team of garden and conservation volunteers, led by our gardener Jesse and apprentice Luca, have raked off the existing meadow border to ready it for improvement.

This summer, corn daisies and knapweed bloomed there, but Jesse wants to see the diversity boosted. So he's brought in some Yellow Rattle - a wild plant that will hold back the grass whilst wildflowers bloom.

"We're trying to improve the meadow by introducing new species and helping them to thrive," he said. "We want some Yellow Rattle in there because it's semi-parasitic on grass."

Yellow Rattle gets its name from its seed pods, which rattle in the breeze.

"It feeds off grass roots and stops it growing so much, so that wildflowers don't have to work so hard to get through the grass," said Jesse.

The volunteers cleared off as much as possible from the existing meadow area and then brought in hay from an established wildflower meadow that also contained yellow rattle seeds.

The hay has been lain over the bare meadow patch and Jesse is expecting the Yellow Rattle to do its 'grass-eating' next year, making better conditions for wild flowers - and the creatures that live in and feed on the meadow.

"We'll know if the experiment's been successful in May and June next year," said Jesse.

"But it's not just about next year, it's about the years after that."

Picture credit: Plants of the World online

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Yellow Rattle - a grass-eating wildflower
The meadow area on the South Lawn
Imagine this in the summer!
The delivery of hay, full of wildflower seeds, including Yellow Rattle
Volunteers help to conserve our landscape
Spreading hay while the sun shines...