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Ancient Meadows

Meadows 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 is formed.

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.

Click here to see further information on the ancient meadows including comparative aerial photographs from 1946 and 1999 showing the encroachment of scrub.

In 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.