Plant Life, the wild plant conservation charity, has named High Beeches as one of 7 great gardens to see wildflowers. http://www.plantlife.org.uk/wildflower_garden
High Beeches has one of the finest ancient, acid wildflower meadows in the country with more than 50 species of wildflowers and grasses attracting numerous insects, butterflies and moths. The meadow is at its most beautiful in June, when the ox-eye daisies and common spotted orchids are in flower and it is alive with the sight and sound of bees, grasshoppers and butterflies.
Acid grassland is a unique habitat which evolved over many generations and was maintained by low-intensity grazing and/or haymaking. Sadly the economic reality of agriculture intensification means that less than 3% of grassland remains unimproved and unimproved hay-meadows such as at High Beeches are the rarest type of grassland.
Management of the meadow at High Beeches includes cutting the grass and removing the hay in August. Once cut and the hay collected, the meadow is harrowed by heavy horses from the Working Horse Trust. Harrowing removes the thatch, scatters seed and opens up the sward giving the wildflowers space and light to grow.
In addition to the meadow, the woodland and water garden is also rich in wildflowers owing to its many microclimates and habitats, with over 150 species of wild plants, all verified by Arthur Hoare of the Sussex Botanical Recording Society.
The Working Horse Trust will be at High Beeches harrowing the meadow on Sunday 17th August.
High Beeches is open to the public every day, except Wednesdays, from 1pm to 5pm
High Beeches Woodland and Water Garden, High Beeches Lane, Handcross, West Sussex, RH17 6HQ www.highbeeches.com
Report and pictures contributed by igh Beeches Woodland and Water Garden.