Celebrating magnificent meadows

The hall at Gibside viewed across the wildflower meadow

Although they're not as popular as your more well known flowers, these gorgeous grasslands are super important and shouldn't be overlooked.

Found in fairly small patches around the estate, there are some lovely grassland habitats and with National Meadows Day on 1 July, we're celebrating, you guessed it, meadows.

They are so important for the bees, butterflies, moths, and a host of other invertebrates, birds, amphibians and small mammals.

The Hall field in particular has had 10 years’ of plant surveys undertaken on by volunteer Judy Summerson. This ancient hay meadow is a riot of colours during the summer, with vibrant yellow rattle and bright purple Betony.

For the last ten years, Judy has been single-handedly carrying out a survey of the meadow on pretty much the exact same date each year.

Judy, a retired environmental studies teacher, has recorded a snapshot of the flowers and wildlife making the meadow their home. This has given the National Trust invaluable knowledge of the condition of the meadow, and how best to look after it to ensure it continues to thrive.

“A meadow is like a supermarket for insects and wildlife such as bees, voles and mice. The flowers provide food for the insects, who are in turn eaten by the mammals and birds," explains Judy.  “This meadow has really flourished over the last decade, and it’s been wonderful to have been part of that.”

Volunteer Michael Horsley then collates all the data and pops it into a celever system which shows the changes – with each year showing improvements.

So how can you get involved?

Straight after Judy has completed this year's survey we'll be asking you to have a go at your own survey using a set-square. 

Plus, in the walled garden there'll be a wild flower swathe to attract pollinators and if you prefer to watch from the sidelines, get comfy on the avenue where you can overlook the Hall meadow. Ideal on a summer's night.