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Meadow Restoration

Written by John James, posted on Tuesday, August 18, 2020

In partnership with Long Mead Local Wildlife Site near Eynsham, Christ Church is starting a project to restore the species rich nature of Christ Church Meadow.

This will form part of the Thames Valley Wildflower Meadow Restoration Project, which plans to reconnect the wildflower meadows of the Upper Thames floodplain, from Oxford to the National Nature Reserve at Chimney Meadow near Faringdon.

Long Mead Local Wildlife Site is a privately owned, species rich ancient floodplain meadow and is providing the source of seed for us to spread on Christ Church Meadow.

Important species that have been lost include Yellow Rattle, Great Burnet, Bedstraws and Ragged Robin amongst many others.

Before work began, a plant and invertebrate survey was carried out to establish what we already have before any work is carried out. Although we have not yet seen the formal reports of the surveys, little of interest was located, so it will be interesting to see how species diversity of plants and invertebrates improves over the coming years.

Following the normal July hay cut, the grass was further reduced down by repeated flail mowing to aid seed sowing. This was then followed by a light pass with a rotavator and chain harrow to give bare, receptive soil for the new seed. The seed arrived in the form of ‘green hay’ which was cut directly from the donor meadow and brought in trailers to Christ Church. The green hay was then loaded into a manure spreader and spread in a thin layer across the previously cultivated areas. This was then followed by rolling to ensure good seed/soil contact.

This method of using green hay to boost species diversity is an established though still experimental technique, which has proved very successful in other restoration projects. Now we need to wait with patience to see how new species establish over the coming years.

In addition to the green hay spreading we will be sowing seeds of some wildflower species into plug trays in order to grow plug plants which we can plant out when they are big enough to survive.

We hope that over the next few years with help from University of Oxford Department of Plant Sciences to monitor species diversity with annual surveys to see how things are progressing. We will also be working with the Oxford Botanic Garden to reintroduce other lost species.

For more details contact John, Head Gardener via and for regular updates on Instagram @christchurchgardener, or Catriona Bass via