Meadows & Wildflowers
Flowery grasslands with their breath-taking beauty and buzz of wildlife have almost vanished from our countryside. Once commonplace, now only fragments remain. Incredibly, churchyards and cemeteries are sometimes the last refuge in the parish for this wonderful but increasingly rare habitat. Old grasslands may often be preserved in burial grounds, for here, they have escaped the developer, the plough, spraying of herbicides and the regular application of fertilisers. Where this habitat is present, a wide and colourful array of flowers may still be seen, from the rich yellow and orange of eggs-and-bacon, to the pink of betony and blue of scabious.
These diverse grasslands are not only beautiful, in their own right, but are also a haven for wildlife. Butterflies dance across the flowers seeking out nectar, bumblebees collect pollen to feed their broods, small mammals take refuge in the longer grass and, in the autumn, colourful waxcap fungi appear. Your churchyard or burial site may be the most ancient enclosed piece of land in a parish, town or city. The grassland will have been relatively undisturbed, reseeding naturally for hundreds if not thousands of years. It will also have been both mown for hay and grazed by animals during its time as a burial ground. A benefit of this continuity of management over a very long time is a rich diversity of grasses, flowers and animals. This old unimproved grassland was once widespread in the UK but is now rare. Since the 1940s over 97% has vanished. Most burial grounds pre-date the 1940s so are now some of the few places it remains.
Grasslands which contain a rich array of plants, animals and fungi are important for carbon storage, up to 30% of the worlds carbon is stored within grasslands so there are many reasons to care for and cherish our fantastic burial ground grasslands.
For introductory information please look at our Action Pack on the right. To dive deeper into the wonderful world of meadows and wildflowers and the wealth of wildlife they support download Flowery Grassland in Burial Grounds. This covers management, history, natural history and the folklore and culture of wildflowers.
This webinar, recorded 26th May 2021, features ecologist Mark Duffel who will cover why recording the flowers and grasses in your site is important, how to easily make and share a record, and run through some of the common and rare flowers you may find in your site. You don’t need to be a botanist to make a great start in recording the plants in your burial ground and finding out what they tell you about the management your site needs. Watch the webinar below to learn how to get started and how we can help.
To find out a bit more
Caring for Grassland, Cutting Long Grass and Dealing with Grass Cuttings, Creating a Wildflower Meadow & Helping Wildlife, Butterflies, Moths and Other Insects, Wonderful Waxcaps and Other Fungi