Our work at Dudmaston
Discover more about how we’re using traditional farming methods to increase wildflowers in the hay meadows we care for. Find out how sheep have been helping with conservation grazing across the woodland in The Dingle to improve biodiversity. Learn more about how the woodland management plan provides fuel for the biomass boiler and works towards our green energy vision.
Caring for wildflower meadows
Today, only 2% of the meadows that existed in the 1930s remain, we’ve lost around 7.5 million acres of wildflower meadow. Hay meadows and species-rich grasslands may be declining nationally, but at Dudmaston we're working with our farmers to restore this rare and important habitat.
Low intensity farming
Our tenant farmer Peter is adopting a low-intensity farming programme to help bring back the hay meadow to Dudmaston's farmland. This field was previously used for sheep grazing and is now becoming a rare and important habitat for many plants and wildlife.
‘In three years, the meadow has gone from short thick turf to open grassland with wildflowers including bird's-foot trefoil and yarrow.’
- Peter Carty, Countryside Manager for South Shropshire
Peter is following a seasonal programme of work to help the meadow to develop and become richer with wildflowers over time. Using traditional farming methods will improve the diversity of the meadow over time.
In late July or August the hay will be cut back. Livestock will then be moved into the meadow to graze the grass. In early spring, the livestock are removed and the plants allowed to grow and flower. The wildflowers will dry in the sun and then naturally release their seeds in the summer before the hay is cut again.
Our work in the Dingle
The Dingle is a rare and important landscape, a feature typical of the Picturesque movement in garden design that first became fashionable in the late 18th century. The idea was to create an artificial landscape that looked natural. Paths, seats and bridges were positioned to enable people to enjoy the area from different viewpoints.
A team of volunteers work in the Dingle on a weekly basis. To date they’ve cleared the overgrown woodland so that native wildflowers can thrive. It’s our hope that the range of flowers will increase as a result of the work.
Nurturing wildflowers to restore the original vistas
Clearing the overgrown space creates room for wild flowers to seed and reach sunlight. Wildflowers in the area now include primrose, celandine, wood anemone, bluebell, lady’s smock, yellow archangel, dog violet and wood sorrel.
The volunteers have built a new fence around the perimeter so that we can introduce sheep. Grazing will prevent the Dingle from becoming overgrown again by keeping areas clear for wildflowers. This will also reduce the amount of time that rangers spend on mechanical cutting. The sheep will be a welcome feature of Dudmaston's historic landscape.
As well as wildflowers, the Dingle is rich in birdlife. Work is planned around resident ravens who nest each year in the trees. Once the youngsters have fledged work can begin again in the area.
A select number of young trees are removed to allow more light into the woodland. Tree-felling can raise concern but controlling fast-growing and self-seeding species really helps the less vigorous species to flourish. Getting the balance right is all part of the woodland management we have in place.
Renewable energy at Dudmaston
The installation of a biomass boiler system that uses woodchip from the estate will save on bills and reduce carbon emissions. This renewable energy source fits in with our vision to reduce the use of fossil fuels and find local renewable alternatives.
Local, sustainable fuel
The biomass system is fuelled by wood grown right here on the estate. Trees are cut down as part of regular woodland work which helps with new growth and biodiversity. The wood is chipped, dried to a specific moisture content and then used to fuel the boiler.
The biomass system is used to heat the house and galleries to the correct levels needed to conserve the collections, and offer comfort to visitors.
A greener future
As a result Dudmaston no longer uses large quantities of oil for heating and this reduces our carbon emissions and energy bills. The biomass system will aim to cut our carbon emissions from heat and electricity by 45 per cent.
With your ongoing support, we're able to continue our vital conservation work. Thank you for helping to protect these special places.
From the Norman knight where it all started to the 200-acre wood that saved it from ruin, learn about Dudmaston’s history.
A much-loved home and country mansion where traditional rooms contrast with contemporary galleries displaying British Modern Art including works by Moore, Matisse and Hepworth.
Get away from it all and enjoy a little peace and tranquility in the garden complete with views as far as the eye can see and a love of art that seeps through.
Find out how you can volunteer and help all visitors to enjoy this special place and make new friends at the same time.
Read about our strategy 'For everyone, for ever' here at the National Trust, which will take the organisation through to 2025.