Despite the lockdown and the resulting restrictions on social gatherings to prevent the spread of Covid-19, a start has been made to establish a community meadow on the Priory Saltings. A small group of volunteers, including councillors from Haverfordwest Town Council joined Plantlife’s Magnificent Meadows Outreach Officer Clare Flynn in early August to collect seed from the elusive Yellow rattle plant growing on the site.

The group gathered enough seed to sow later this year once the whole site has been mown and the area designated for the meadow has been harrowed ( a technique used  to scratch the surface and expose the soil to increase the chances of germination).

Yellow rattle is a plant that feeds on grasses and in doing so weakens its growth. This allows new species to gain a foothold, making Yellow rattle a vital ingredient for naturally establishing new wildflower meadows on sites where fertility is high and grass mono-culture is dominant. 

Whilst searching for the seed heads of the Yellow rattle, participants benefited from Clare’s prodigious knowledge of plants in identifying a range of wildflower plants found growing on the Saltings site. 

Species identified included: Hemp agrimony, Fleabane, Hedge woundwort, Field Woundwort, Viper’s Bugloss, Wild Carrot and Red Bartsia. Red Bartsia is similar to Yellow rattle in its ability to weaken grasses and help other species to colonise and create a wildflower meadow so good to find it growing there.

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Looking ahead the next steps are:

  • Our grass contractor Aled Bowen is to cut and collect grass along paths and over the whole site area  in late  August/ September. 
  • A workday with Pembrokehsire Coast National Park (PCNP) volunteers led by PCNP’s Discovery Ranger Tom Moses to further rake and tidy site. 
  • Aled will return to harrow the proposed community meadow site – the smaller yellow area marked on map.
  • Another PCNP volunteer day to further rake and increase the area of  bare ground in the meadow for seed sowing and treading- in

 

Haverfordwest Town Council would very much like to invite local schoolchildren to help sow our  precious Yellow rattle seed, and letters will shortly be sent to each school in the town.

Please contact the Town Clerk on townclerk@haverfordwesttown.co.uk  if this is something you think your school / class would be interested in doing.

(photo credits: Wyndrush Wild and Cllr C Evans)

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