Tag Archives: Orchids

Amazing Hay Meadows

Orchid Meadow, Photo: Mike Howe
Orchid Meadow, Photo: Mike Howe

I’ve been away working again this week visiting yet more beautiful gardens and grasslands, and the absolute highlight of the trip was seeing this incredible hay meadow that had more orchids in it than I’ve ever seen in my life before.

In just this one field there are over 100,000 orchids of 5 different species.

Orchid Meadow, Photo: Mike Howe
Orchid Meadow, Photo: Mike Howe

The meadow was created by the National Trust in response to a request from The Prince of Wales to create a wildflower meadow in every county in Britain to celebrate the anniversary of the Queens coronation.

Orchid Meadow, Photo: Mike Howe
Orchid Meadow, Photo: Mike Howe

It was also a campaign to try to reclaim the glorious hay meadows that were once common in Britain, 98% of which we have lost to intensive agriculture since 1945, along with all of the wildlife that they supported such as wild flowers, butterflies, moths, bees and ground nesting birds such as meadow pipits and skylarks – all gone from our silent fields because of fertilisers, modern grass mixes, higher yields and the switch from hay making to silage.

Orchid Meadow, Photo: Mike Howe
Orchid Meadow, Photo: Mike Howe

Undoubtedly the star of the botanical show in this restored hay meadow was the rare and beautiful butterfly orchid.  This is the first one I’ve ever seen….

Butterfly Orchid, Photo: Mike Howe
Butterfly Orchid, Photo: Mike Howe

I just hope that we can restore more of these once common traditional hay meadows to our countryside, so that the wildlife that we are in danger of losing forever can be around for our children to see and for future generations.

Orchid Meadow, Photo: Mike Howe
Orchid Meadow, Photo: Mike Howe