Hampshire Wildlife Trust visit to Quarley Churchyard, May 2003.

At the end of an amazing summer, with the nights drawing in, we have been looking back on the year in the churchyard, the highlight of which was the visit from the Hampshire Wildlife Trust (HWT) representative Liz Allinson. The churchyard is a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation. Owing to the fact that no fertilisers or weed killers have been used in the churchyard, the soil is ’unimproved’, a situation that greatly benefits wild flowers as they prefer ‘poor’ soil. Consequently some of the wild flowers that our parents’/grandparents’ generation would have seen in the hedgerows and fields, but have largely disappeared in the years since the 1939-1945 war, still remain within the wall and fences.

Some of the group Meadow Saxifrage
Some of the group. Meadow Saxifrage

The visit was arranged in the week of half term in May to allow people to attend with their children. The intention was to walk around the churchyard to discover the various interesting vegetation and flowers. About 12 people attended the walk.  Among the interesting flowers that were noted were:

the growing area of Meadow Saxifrage (see photograph); the Bulbous Buttercup, (the bulbous tuber and the way the sepals bend back distinguish it from the creeping menace that invades most peoples’ flower beds); the Mouse Eared Hawkweed and various Sedges includes the Glaucous Sedge; Hoary Plantain and many grasses including the most attractive Quaking Grass.

Those that attended, found the information given very interesting and we were very grateful for the time and advice given to us by the HWT.

It was decided that this year we would leave all the old parts of the churchyard (the mound) un-mown with the exception of paths giving access to the bells at the rear of the church and various graves that are visited by family members. The HWT advice was not to mow this area until August, so that rare flowers and grasses would have a chance to set seed. The front area along side the wall was to be mown regularly together with an area outside the church porch.

Now we are at the end of the year, we have been able to look back and review the mowing policy. Unfortunately after many years of having the churchyard cut, the ordinary grasses have flourished and now grow rather too vigorously at the expense of the wild flowers that are flowering at 8-10 inch level. However, by cutting only occasionally and never allowing the cut grass to lie, as that would feed the soil, more wild flowers will colonise the churchyard. Next year we will limit the areas where the grass is not cut until August, so that the later flowering Scabious and yarrow (or Milfoil as it is also known) and the Lesser Knapweed can be seen and the spring flowering Primroses will also be able to flourish.

Quarley PCC

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