Wildflowers at Bateman's
From late spring, you can see the first signs of wildflowers emerging throughout the Bateman’s gardens and wider estate, in a wide variety of colour and species. Whether you choose to take a short stroll from the house to the outer edges of the formal garden or to venture further afield into the rolling countryside, there's lots to see.
Wildflowers in the garden
In summer, wild flowers take over from the cultivated species; Cuckoo Flower and Ramsons flower in abundance followed by a variety of vetches, clover, speedwells, coralroot bittercress, red campion, wild garlic and primroses. Along the banks of the River Dudwell, you can see Meadow Sweet and Rosebay Willow herb the living fossil that is Horsetail which has been around for over 100 million years and masses of Ox Eye Daisies. In late summer we take a hay cut in the Wild Garden and Meadow beyond, which helps to reduce the vigour of the grass, allowing more wild flowers eventually to colonise this area.
Wildflowers on the estate
We've a large estate outside of the formal gardens at Bateman's. In the early summer sunshine there are meadows and fields to explore. Orchids, bluebells, ox-eye daisies, wood anemones, yellow archangel, cuckoo flower, betony, vetches can be found. There's plenty of woodland, small copses and open farmland here, with most of it having been untouched for years.
From mid-April to the beginning of May you might even see carpets of bluebells in the woodlands and get the chance to smell their delicate fragrance.
Creating a Wildflower meadow
More than just pretty to the eye, wildflower meadows play an important role in maintaining a healthy eco-system, providing food and a home for a variety of wildlife. At Bateman’s the Lower Brook Meadow is a field taken back in hand from our tenant farmers in 2010 and which we are restoring to a traditional wildflower hay meadow. We have recently installed a new pond which is already being visited by dragonflies, frogs, newts and a range of invertebrates.
" A walk through a meadow to see our native grasses and wildflowers in bloom can really lift the spirits,’ Kevan explains. ‘Wildflowers however are not simply pretty to look at but make a big contribution to the health of other wildlife too. They attract a huge variety and number of pollinating insects including butterflies, as well as hoverflies and bees."
We also spend time maintaining and enhancing the existing meadows by taking a hay cut in late summer followed by grazing with the rare breed Manx Loaghtan sheep from September to the end of February. Traditionally this is called ‘aftermath’ grazing. Once the grass has been cut for hay it responds by having a surge of growth that is full of nutrients so it’s great for livestock. But the main reason we use the sheep is that they remove more nutrients (wild flowers like low nutrient levels) and keep the grass short so that wildflower seed germinating in spring has less competition. They also push wildflower seed into the ground as they walk around – so it is then less likely to be eaten by birds, mammals etc
What you can see
From mid-April through to late summer , the meadow produces an amazing abundance of flowers for visitors to enjoy. The humble but prolific dandelion heralds an array of colour from the gentle pink of the Cuckoo Flower, cranesbill, meadow vetchling and ox-eye daisies to the golden yellow of buttercups, red clovers and towering white umbels of cow parsley.
In the summer the meadow is the place to head off to and breathe in the fresh country air. Clovers and vetches of all colours mingle with the Common Spotted Orchid and the scarce Green-Veined Orchid. Red Campion, Meadowsweet, Rosebay Willowherb and the rare Coralroot Bittercress can be found growing along the field margins and river banks.
As you wander through this pastoral splendour, clouds of butterflies will lead you to lightly shaded ponds with dragonflies darting here and there.