Creating wildflower grasslands

Wildflower meadows are home to lots of animals and insects

Calcareous grasslands are amongst the most species-rich habitats in the country. They thrive on thin, dry soils in limestone areas. They provide home for many striking flowering plants, such as orchids, as well as rare insects and stunning butterflies.

Restoring the grasslands in the Cotswolds is fundamental to the Stroud landscape project. Practices such as grazing and cutting are crucial for the maintenance of this important habitat. We're also recreating traditional hay meadows that support native flower species.

Removing the scrub

We're managing the scrub on Minchinhampton and Rodborough Commons. Although an important habitat in its own right, if left, scrub can quickly take over. On the Commons it's encroaching onto the priority grassland habitat so we're removing invasive species like holm oak and cotoneaster. This enables the threatened Duke of Burgundy butterfly to thrive.

At Crickley Hill we're continuing an ongoing programme of scrub control that will benefit uncommon species such as the diminutive musk orchid.

Work is also being carried out to control scrub and protect the limestone grasslands at Haresfield Beacon and on Coaley Peak near Woodchester Park, we're removing the scrub on the south facing bank to encourage more butterflies onto the site.

The Duke of Burgundy butterfly
The Duke of Burgundy butterfly
The Duke of Burgundy butterfly

Conservation grazing

You can see our herd of Belted Galloway cattle happily munching across the Stroud landscape project area. We're also working closely with the graziers on Minchinhampton and Rodborough Commons and our tenants.

Conservation grazing isn't just happening on National Trust land. It's also taking place on important wildlife sites owned or managed by other organisations such as the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, Butterfly Conservation and Natural England.

This traditional way of managing grasslands, without the use of harmful pesticides, creates a range of heights in the grass sward increasing the diversity of wildflowers and insects.

Sowing seeds

We're helping to restore areas of grassland by sowing wildflower and native grass seeds. We've collected some of this seed from fields that we care for at Woodchester Park as well as other wildflower meadows around Stroud.  It won't be long before we see more cowslips, knapweeds, yellow rattle and orchids gracing the Cotswold landscape. 

Seed harvesting
Seed harvesting
Seed harvesting

Over the next few years, we'll be collecting more seed from local meadows to sow not only on land managed by the National Trust but also on fields owned by local landowners.