Barton Fields Wildflower Meadow Update - 2012

The Barton Fields wildflower meadow project really got under way five years ago when we got Lottery funding, though we had been mowing the area and removing the herbage for a number of years prior to that. The aim was to increase biodiversity, for plants and insects and to create an attractive and interesting area for the public.

A half-hectare area was harrowed and sown with Yellow Rattle seed in the autumn of 2008. This annual plant is hemi-parasitic, weakening grasses by drawing nutrients from their roots. This allows a greater diversity of plants to flourish. The following year, the area was sown with a mixture of 18 native species. Pot-grown native plants of 15 species were also introduced.

For the next three years botanical surveys of one-metre quadrats have been undertaken in early summer. All herb species were counted, and the relative abundance of the various grasses was recorded also.

These surveys have show that the introduced plants have increased in abundance, and many other plants have colonised naturally. Tall growing herbs and tall grasses which once dominated have practically disappeared, allowing low-growing flowering plants to thrive. These provide nectar for bees, butterflies and other insects and the low vegetation causes higher ground-level temperatures, appreciated by the butterflies and other insects. The greater number of flowering plants in the wildflower meadow is found to boost the numbers of grassland butterflies compared with the un-treated mid-field area. In particular, the food plants of caterpillars of the Blue butterfly family: Bird's-foot Trefoil (Common Blue), Lesser Trefoil (Common Blue), Dove’s-foot Crane's-bill (Brown Argus) and Common Sorrel (Small Copper) are thriving.

A smaller area at the western end of the field was seeded with a wildflower mixture in 2005. This too is now flourishing and supports a wide variety of butterflies and other insects. This area is not mowed, as the flora remains short, possibly due to thinner less fertile soil.

Introduced Plants


Colonised Naturally


Other plants - introduced and colonised


Wildflower Meadow
Number of plants in 42 quadrats
Yellow Rattle173623261179
Creeping Buttercup357896889
Ribwort Plantain43382620
Oxeye Daisy156300470
Bird's-foot Trefoil55158287
Cut-leaved Crane's-bill100162230
Amphibious Bistort10579113
Common Knapweed5668106
Rough Hawk's-beard1710268
Meadow Vetchling115468
Meadow Buttercup52054
Bristly Oxtongue65447
Lesser Trefoil?12541
Red Clover31438
Hedge Bindweed1378436
Lady's Bedstraw187835
Meadow Crane's-bill22433
White Clover5P31
Broad-leaved Dock21029
Smooth Hawk's-beard6P29
Common Sorrel51217
Dove's-foot Crane's-bill215310
Greater Willowherb62810
Common Mouse-ear0199
Field Scabious6161
Greater BurnetP31
Common Vetch937P
Tufted Vetch511P
Marsh Woundwort55P
Ragged Robin11P
White Campion1P?
Stinging Nettle1P?
Water Figwort1PP
Devil's bit ScabiousPPP
Musk MallowPPP
Greater KnapweedPPP
Common RagwortPPP
Square-stalked StJohn's-wort0PP
A Violet00P
Grass Vetchling00P
Autumn Hawkbit?76?
Prickly Sowthistle2??
Kidney Vetch0P0
Corn Chamomile400
Marsh Dock400
Ground Ivy100
P = Present but not in surveyed quadrats
  = Introduced

Recorders: Jo Cartmell, David Guyoncourt & Vivienne Summers.