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Our work at Dudmaston

Wildflowers in a meadow
Wildflower meadow at Dudmaston | © National Trust - Helen R

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.

At Dudmaston we have many meadows bordering the river Severn. Our aim is to restore species-rich floodplain meadow. Working with our tenant farmer Martin we have sowed many kilograms of wildflower seed. The meadow will be cut for hay in late July, early August.

Ghost pond restoration

In a corner of the meadow was the indentation of an old pond. We have restored this pond and planted several aquatic plants. This will be a habitat which should prove a haven for wildlife and therefore increase biodiversity in the area.

Woodland management

The woods here at Dudmaston have a plan that records what makes them special, their history, wildlife and existing tree species. The plan describes how we will manage the woodland and what the future may look like. We consider changing climate, pest, diseases and what we want the woodland to look like in the future. We need to carefully manage woodlands that will be healthy for wildlife and for people.

Each winter we thin the woodland to allow the mature trees room to grow and young saplings enough light to able to develop. This will ultimately creating a better range of ages amongst the trees. With the increase in space and light there will be an increase in woodland flora and wildlife. We hope to encourage more butterflies like the White Admiral and woodland flowers.

A rustic bridge in a woodland dingle, a path leads into the woods.
The rustic bridge at the Dingle, Dudmaston Shropshire | © National Trust

The Dingle

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.

Since its creation the valley has become overgrown, and its features have been lost. Over the years the valley has been used for growing commercial forestry and its original aesthetic beauty has been obscured. The Rangers are gradually restoring it to an interpretation of its original landscaped condition. Many of the self-set Ash trees have succumbed to ash die back and have been removed for safety reasons. We have built a secure boundary fence and our flock of Hebridean sheep help prevent The Dingle from becoming overgrown and reduce the time the Rangers spend on mechanical cutting.

This clearing of overgrowth will increase the space and light available for wildflowers such as red campion and yellow archangel.

Using reference points from the past we hope to restore the Dingle back into a lightly wooded valley with plentiful ground flora, where the babbling brook flows under bridges and on past rocky outcrops. It already boasts areas of quiet where visitors can contemplate and commune with nature.

Log pile
The biomass system is fuelled by wood grown right here on the estate. | © National Trust - Helen R

Renewable energy at Dudmaston

Our biomass boiler system that uses woodchip from the estate saves 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 helps our aim to cut our carbon emissions from heat and electricity by 45 per cent.

Thank you

With your ongoing support, we're able to continue our vital conservation work. Thank you for helping to protect these special places.

A glimpse of the house at Dudmaston between tall trees in spring

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