Wild flowers return to hay meadow




Wildflower meadows are returning to the North Pennines, thanks to restoration project.

The seven year scheme, run by the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnership, has seen the return of a number of plants including yellow rattle, common bent, eyebright, wood crane’s-bill, ragged robin and the lesser trefoil.

Wood crane's-bill is one of the plants to return to the North Pennines (NPAP)

Wood crane's-bill is one of the plants to return to the North Pennines (NPAP)

Funding for the project has come from the County Durham Environment Trust and the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Seed has been harvested from hay meadows rich in wildflowers and then spread on nearby meadows which have lost their special plants.

Ruth Starr-Keddle, the Partnership’s Hay Time project officer, said: “Using special machinery, we harvest either the seed-bearing top of the hay crop or the entire crop and then spread it as ‘green hay’ on a nearby meadow”.

Since 2006 seed has been spread on 135ha of meadows across the AONB.

The meadows found in the North Pennines are a special type, characteristic of the harsh conditions typical of hilly and mountainous regions across Europe.

These ‘upland’ or ‘mountain hay meadows’ are now a very rare habitat with little more than 900ha thought to remain in the UK.

The best meadows can support up to 120 different species of flowering plant.

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