97% of traditional hay meadows in England have disappeared since the 1940s
We are a small, enthusiastic group of local smallholders living in the Stiperstones and Cordon Hill area of the Welsh Marches, who are interested in the the management and conservation of wildflower rich hay meadows. Please look at our website and feel free to contribute to our discussions, come to our events or even join the group
Coronavirus Emergency, Notice of Changes to Activities and Events
Having watched the Government briefings on the developing Coronavirus emergency it is clear that the situation continues to worsen and may persist for some considerable time. Our membership includes some individuals who are at higher than normal risk and who will be following Government recommendations and self-isolating. Additionally, gatherings of groups in close contact is to be avoided.
The Scything workshop scheduled for Sunday 5th April has already been cancelled and reluctantly the decision has been made to cancel the AGM at Snailbeach village hall on Tuesday 5th May at 7.30pm. We will explore ways of conducting the AGM business remotely so that an elected Committee is in place to continue with the excellent work of the Group and harness the benefits of the Stepping Stones Project grant that we have been awarded for 2020.
A decision on the forthcoming meeting scheduled for May 21st, a visit to meadows at Sarn, will be made by the Committee after discussion with the meadow owner.
Plans for meetings in July and beyond will be made at a later date by the Committee after consultation with the membership. Conditions prevailing at the time and Government advice will be crucial as to whether meetings can recommence from July onwards.
The Committee will keep you informed as the situation becomes clearer about future meetings and Events. The website and Facebook page will be kept updated, so please consult these for the latest position. There may be specific questions related to, for example, this year's Haymaking programme, but these will be dealt with once this initial notification has been made. Please contact a member of the Committee if you have any specific queries.
In the meantime, please take care and good health to you and your families.
David Poynton, Chair, on behalf of the MMG Committee
Reminder of Subscriptions due for 2020/21
In normal circumstances the group's AGM would be taking place on 5th May and this date is when membership subscriptions are due for renewal.
Although unfortunately due to the current extraordinary circumstances the AGM this year will have to be a virtual one, the subscriptions are still due on this date and the only virtual bit about them is the method of payment. Unfortunately we cannot accept cash payments this year and therefore if, as I hope, you do choose to renew your membership, payment will need to be made by bank transfer or by cheque, if you do not already pay by standing order.
If you are willing to set up a standing order for future membership subscriptions this would be much appreciated as it would simplify things for our treasurer, Paul Simon and myself and gives the group more certainty about the income we can expect from subscriptions.
If you are making a payment by bank transfer or standing order please give your name as a reference (or Paul will not know who it has come from) and make the payment to Unity Trust Bank, sort code 60-83-01, account no 20356051. As in previous years the cost of membership is £15.00 per household. Cheques should be made payable to Marches Meadow Group and sent to Paul Simon, Upper Gravenor, Norbury, SY9 5EG. If you can inform me (email@example.com) when you have made the payment I will not need to contact you again.
Committee members are very aware that new members who have joined the group in the last year may not yet have had a chance to discover the benefits of joining the group because of the cancellation of the earlier planned events for the year. Like everyone else we are hoping that the restrictions will soon be lifted to enable some of the events to still take place. We do hope you will choose to renew your membership this year as your meadows and plants continue to thrive despite the most unfortunate limitations we are experiencing at present. Do keep in touch!
Siobhan Reedy, Membership Officer
Our new programme for 2020 is now available on the Courses and Events page on this site so have a look to see if anything interests you. If you would like a copy of the leaflet to print off just press the link opposite to download a copy. The leaflet will be available at various events in the future.
THE STEPPING STONES PROJECT HAS ARRIVED!
Avid readers of MMG committee minutes will have read that towards the end of last year, Marches Meadow Group (MMG) received exciting news that we were to be part of the 2020 “Stepping Stones Project”. We were delighted, but a little daunted by the news, since the work has to be completed during 2020. The Committee has been very busy over the Christmas period drafting plans and thinking about how we will contribute to the overall goals.
As a reminder the “Stepping Stones Project” focuses on land between two protected upland heathland sites, the Stiperstones and the Long Mynd, with the aim of restoring hedges, streamside wetlands and of course areas of species rich meadows - our own speciality! Thanks to financial support from the People's Postcode Lottery, work is now underway with a Project Manager (Charlie Bell) joining the National Trust in February to oversee the project.
MMG will play a significant role in delivering key parts of this project and Pete Carty will outline the relationship between ourselves and the Project at this year’s AGM on Tuesday 5th May at 7:30 p.m. A key date for your diary!
Further details of this event and the others planned by MMG have been circulated to you and are always available on this website which will bring updates and features as well. National Trust members in the Midlands region will have received the Spring edition of the “Near You” events paper which details on page 2 more about this exciting Project. There are also public events in the next few weeks explaining the aims of the Project in more detail and how to become involved. Your help and input is vital if MMG, working with other wildlife groups in the area, is to be successful in delivering our targets for this Project. The first of these meetings, held at Norbury village hall on 30th January, identified meadows as important to many of the people present.
For ways in which you can help MMG with the “Stepping Stones Project” please contact either Richard Small or myself as soon as possible.
I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible at the AGM in May or at this year's Hay Meadow Festival, to be held at the Discovery Centre, Craven Arms on Saturday 11th July. This promises to be bigger and better with many wildlife groups attending and lots to see and do. We will need volunteers to staff the MMG stand so please try to spare an hour or two.
2020 should be the year in which we -
“Make Meadows Matter”
D.J.Poynton, Chair, Marches Meadow Group
The Botanist Gin
A Talk by Richard Gulliver
Marches Meadow Group
Friday March 13th
7.30 – 9.00 p.m.
Richard is a Shropshire-based botanist, ecologist and wildlife enthusiast. He spent 27 years in the Hebrides engaged in wildlife surveys and teaching. He will be talking about the role he and his wife played in the selection of the 22 Islay botanicals in The Botanist Gin, which has been produced by the Bruichladdich Distillery since 2010. He will relate fascinating aspects of some of the 22, and tell of the years spent sustainably harvesting these plants, between 2010 and 2017.
Admission is £3.00
Free to members of Marches Meadow Group
Only a select few braved the culmination of a global pandemic and Friday the 13th, and ventured forth to Bishops Castle for Richard Gulliver’s interesting talk about the creation of The Botanist Gin. Created in Islay at the Bruichladdich whisky distillery, it was one of the first designer gins in what has now become something of a revival of this drink.
The key to The Botanist was the teaming up of an experienced distiller (Jim McEwan) with two botanists (Richard and Mavis) on the island. Richard explained how he and Mavis collected various potential plants (botanicals) from across the island, twenty two of which were chosen to complement the nine that are usually used. These included a small number of local juniper berries, chamomile, meadowsweet, creeping thistle, bog myrtle and apple mint leaves. Some of these were native to the island and others had been brought in by settlers and although many of the crofters were long gone, the plants that they had used could often be found around their now abandoned homes.
Following the talk there was a raffle for a bottle of the gin along with generous tastings of the 46% spirit for anyone not driving home.
Our annual newsletter is now available !
This is our second newsletter for the group featuring articles about events and projects which have taken place over the last year. These include a description of our haymaking activities during 2019 last year's annual talk by Stephanie Tyler as well as features on various projects that the Marches Meadow Group is actively involved with.
If you would like a digital copy of the newsletter just click on the link above. We hope you enjoy it!
Growing Native Orchids in Meadows and Gardens A talk by Suzanne Noble hosted by the Marches Meadow Group
After a minor technical hitch over the projector we eventually got going and were treated to a fascinating talk given by Suzanne Noble about growing native orchids in meadows and gardens. About 70 people turned up at the Church Barn in Bishops Castle on November 13th to hear about the wide range of orchids native to this country (about 52 apparently) and their very unique and sometimes bizarre behaviour. This even includes one orchid that spends its entire life underground. Suzanne has been growing orchids since 2013 and she talked about the way in which she propagates orchids in her laboratory from seed. There was plenty of technical information about the physical features of orchid seeds which are different from other seeds in that they have no food store of their but instead rely on the presence of mycorrhizal fungi in the soil for their sustenance. Suzanne now propagates a range of orchids, requiring different soil conditions, in her laboratory and brought along some samples of plants being grown in jars for us to look at. At the end of the talk there were plenty of questions related to peoples’ own experiences and (usually) difficulties in growing or transplanting orchids in their own meadows or gardens. She had also brought with her a selection of orchid seeds to sell, which inevitably this attracted a large crowd of actual or potential orchid growers. No doubt our meadows and gardens in the local area will soon be flourishing with plenty of examples of this highly-prized plant.
Suzanne lives in Herefordshire and is available for visits if you want to know more or see at first hand the process of orchid propagation. Her contact details and further information is on her website at
The Lizard Orchid, our biggest native orchid, standing between 30cm and 90cm tall, covered in a wild grey-green mass of lizard tails, which are the elongated lip petals.
Moths and Meadows Meeting - Pennerley House (7th July)Around 25 members gathered in ideal conditions to chat and walk leisurely through three meadow areas at different stages of development.
In the 1-acre meadow, established around 4 years ago, a couple of Common Spotted Orchids were found by Steve; the first year they’ve been observed in this field. Some large patches of Ox-eye Daisy were in full flower; the seed collected from another of the meadow areas last year. Ringlet, Meadow Brown and Common Blue butterflies were actively flying and later in the day a worn Forester moth was observed laying eggs on Sorrel.
On display in the other meadow areas were over 30 Common spotted orchids. Greater Butterfly orchids which made their first appearance last year have trebled in number this year to 15 plants.After tea, biscuits, more chatting and two delightful homemade cakes made by Alyson and Janet the Robinson moth trap, with the special mercury vapour light was opened to reveal the cryptic Buff-tip moth, a large and active Poplar Hawk moth and a myriad of smaller moths with gold and silver markings. Examples of the moths specifically associated with wild meadow flowers such as Yellow Rattle and Common Knapweed were displayed. Towards the end of the meeting a pheromone for the Six-spotted Burnet moth was deployed with a male arriving in quite an agitated state. Perhaps not what he expected!Our next event for Marches Meadow Group members is the Scything Week run by Simon Cooter of Natural England followed in October by an indoor meeting - "Meadow Owners Question Time". It isn't necessary to have a large meadow to attend! Questions about making a very small meadow area on a lawn will be most welcome. If you are not yet a member complete the application form and send it to Siobhan Reedy well before our keynote event in November.