June 2019 - Wildflower Meadow Project update
Recently, we’ve had major interest in the Wildflower Meadow Project - both because it is right in front of the castle, and because there is now obvious progress on the long-term project to be seen.
The Wildflower Project, led by Head Ranger Carl Green, is developing well - though it is still relatively early days! During 2018 Lolita Hickey, our volunteer costumed raffle ticket seller, has helped to raise significant funds to sustain the project, and the scheme now looks like it will have a really positive future.
Funds raised from generous visitors have enabled the purchase of a new machine, which will extend the project into other fields. Building on this initial success, the plan is now to create more Hay Meadows in the Pleasure Lay field, next to the entrance drive!
Each year the species of flowers and grasses are carefully monitored by Ranger Keith Griffith, who takes great pains to inspect and record every element of this mammoth task. In the winter months the team use electric fencing on the planned areas of meadow, which allows sheep to graze - essential for long term restoration of healthy wildflower meadows. In the photos above and below you can clearly see the progress being made. The brown patches are areas of mainly Yellow Rattle - a semi-parasitic, grassland annual that weakens grasses. At the end of each growing season, as the annual yellow rattle plants die away they leave behind gaps into which new wild flowers can establish.
The most important aspect to bear in mind is that it has taken over two generations of seeding and tending to reach this point, and the vision of the existence of a wildflower meadow may take up to eight more! This is certainly a long-term plan, however it is really encouraging to see such strong early signs of success.
A current dilemma is how to harvest the hay, as this fantastic natural habitat for birds, bees and butterflies is invaluable, but using modern machinery, it can disappear in seconds! We are confident that the Chirk Castle Ranger Team will tackle this problem with their usual positive attitude!