of this quality are very rare. It was common practice in the past to plough
up meadowland for crops, or "improve" them with fertiliser for
hay. In more recent times chemical herbicides and fertilisers have been
commonly used. None of this has happened in Dagnam Park, consequently
you can still see an English meadow as it would have been in the early
part of the last century.
Sadly it is not only modern chemicals that threaten the last of our meadows,
but the natural progression of nature itself. Meadows are gradually colonised
by shrubs and trees; eventually the trees dominate and finally forest
To keep the Dagnam Park meadows it will be necessary to manage these changes.
In the last fifty years the meadows have gradually shrunk in size as the
scrub has encroached. It may well be that one of the first management
tasks of the friends will be to de-scrub and preserve these meadows for
future admirers of our park.
On the boundary with Kings Wood School, the old Oaks that form part of
the hedge have seeded heavily and there is now a dense Oak thicket encroaching
into the meadow. Across the meadow in general you can see clumps of Hawthorn
and Dog Rose which are the early colonisers. If they are allowed to become
established, within ten or twenty years from now the fields will be unrecognisable.
If you look at the area marked red
on the map you can see an area that was part meadow forty years ago but
is now an impenetrable thicket. The bushes are so dense that no wildflowers
can survive in their shade. In the area circled in blue the process is
also well advanced with the scrub closing in. Many light-greedy flowers
are already lost and some bird species have also been pushed out. The
area encircled in green is currently the best meadowland and urgent action
is required to conserve this area. It has been cut within the past ten
years and to some extent this has held back the tide of scrub, but this
has only delayed the natural processes action is required urgently. This
area contains the rarer plants, Adders Tongue
and Spotted Orchid as well as excellent
stands of Pignut and Cats Ear.
here to see
further information on the ancient meadows including comparative aerial
photographs from 1946 and 1999 showing the encroachment of scrub.
the summer the wild flowers draw your attention to the meadows. The same
flowers are also attractive to the insects, butterflies such as the Essex
Skipper and the Small Copper are present often in good numbers and amongst
the day flying moths the Five Spot Burnett
is particularly striking. If you use your ears as well as your eyes there
will be a constant hum of the numerous different species of Bee as well
as the chirping of the Crickets and Grasshoppers. Roesel's
Bush Cricket is a species that is scarce nationally but not uncommon
in the park.