Latest news

Orchids begin to bloom

Orchid in flower at Orchid Meadows

10 June 2022

After a long winter and then a fine spring, our site is beginning to live up its name again. The orchids are starting to bloom. They have begun coming out at the top of Evening Meadow. Last year they flowered here first too and then spread slowly down the meadow, also appearing in Morning Meadow, Western Rhos and Southern Bottoms.

 

Actually, one has already been spotted in Western Rhos, which is grazed by our Highland Cattle, but it is sadly no more. Steve went down to check on Saskia and Suki other other day and found them grazing side by side with a rather fine and tall orchid in flower between them. “Don’t you go eating that orchid,” he told them. What happened next was unbelievable. As soon as the words had come out of his mouth, one of the cows – we cannot remember if it was Saskia or Suki – looked up at him, looked at the orchid, bit the top off, looked up at Steve again and chewed it with what looked like a grin on her face. This is not made up or exaggerated. We are beginning to think they are not normal cows at all.

 

Anyway, they cannot get from Western and Eastern Rhos into the meadows, so the orchids are, hopefully, safe there. By the end of July we expect several hundred to be out. They are thought to be a hybrid somewhere between heath spotted orchid and either southern marsh orchid or northern marsh orchid (there is an overlap of these two in West Wales).

The Highlanders arrive

Highland cattle at Orchid Meadows

25 April 2022

We are pleased to welcome our two new hairy friends in the shape of Saskia and Suki. They are year-old Highland cattle and will live on our Eastern and Western Rhos Pastures.

 

These pastures need something to keep the coarser vegetation such as moorgrass (molinia) and rushes from dominating too much and to ultimately stop the fields turning into lumpy thickets of tussocks and scrub. Most cattle would not do well on rhos pasture and sheep would simply refuse to eat what is available. Think of a fussy child being offered broccoli when they would rather have baked beans. Highland Cattle, however, can not only cope with the chewy vegetation but are able to thrive on it. They will also allow the finer grasses and wildflowers a chance to escape the domination by, let us say, the rougher elements of the plant community.

 

The picture shows either Saskia or Suki – it’s hard to tell which is which, to be honest – after enjoying some cattle treats.

Woodland takes shape

Tree planting at Orchid Meadows

18 April 2022

The trees are all in the ground for our new 5-acre Southern Bottoms Wood. All 2300 of them, paid for with the help of a grant from the Woodland Trust. 

 

A good mixture of broad-leaves has been chosen, comprising alder, aspen, goat willow, downy birch, rowan, hawthorn, Scot’s pine, sessile or Western oak, crab apple and hazel. If that seems a hotch-potch of types, there is a good reason for it. The ground in Southern Bottoms varies from heathland-dry, through middling-damp to absolutely bog-wet. Think of it as a mosaic of islands and seas. The Scot’s pine and oak have been planted in the drier patches with the wetter areas matched with alder, aspen and goat willow. The more shrubby trees will in time form a soft edge to the new wood.

 

After an exceptionally wet March, the weather finally settled down to more favourable planting conditions. Thank goodness! The picture shows chief tree planter Morgan in action with a Scot's pine.