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Creating wildflower meadows at Bodiam Castle

Bumblebee feeding from yellow rattle wild flower at Bath Skyline, Somerset
Bumblebee feeding from yellow rattle | © National Trust Images / Sara Strawson

Here at Bodiam Castle, we’re working on a long-term project to create lowland grassland and floodplain meadow habitats in existing species-poor grassland. By changing our management of these areas, over time the biodiversity of both invertebrates and wildflowers will greatly increase, creating species-rich meadows.

Creating meadows at Bodiam Castle

Reintroducing meadows around Bodiam Castle isn’t just going to make for an attractive landscape, it also creates an abundant new environment for wildlife and wildflowers. The original parkland estate at Bodiam, which covered several thousand acres, had a variety of uses including agricultural, with extensive grazing in woodland and grassland.

Grazing of floodplain meadows continues today along the river valley, so by creating more of this lowland meadow habitat we are returning the landscape to something closer to its origins and adding to the connectivity of habitats within it. The areas we are concentrating on are Castle Field to the west of the castle and Freren Meade, the field south of the River Rother.

A view over the countryside with trees in summer to Bodiam Castle, East Sussex
Castle Field and Freren Meade on the Bodiam Castle estate are the focus of the habitat creation project | © National Trust Images/John Millar

How we are achieving our goals

Summer 2021

Hay-cutting and habitat conservation

We work with a local grazier to take a hay cut of the long grass on Castle Field each summer, just as you would with any managed hay meadow. The arisings – dead and now unwanted grass – are baled and used for animal bedding or feed. Removing the arisings at this stage, to stop them rotting down and releasing nitrogen back into the soil, is a crucial part of meadow conservation. This reduces the vigour of rank grass species, allowing wildflowers to colonise more rapidly. The grass is cut once more in October, replicating the natural ‘aftermath grazing’ normally carried out by sheep or cattle.

A rewarding process

Undertaking meadow restoration is not a quick process, it will take many years for wildflower populations to become established, with ongoing work throughout the coming years. It will be exciting and rewarding to see which new species appear every year and to share these findings with our supporters.

Thank you

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

Spring oak foliage and the castle towers in the background at Bodiam Castle, East Sussex


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