Rufford Abbey’s Meadow is a Lowland Acid Grassland which is an uncommon grassland type in the British lowlands and is of regionally high importance for nature conservation (Notts LBAP). The grasslands western boundary was the site of a bowling green and pavilion, whilst the eastern side was amenity grassland and has a long history of being managed for recreation whether it formal or informal depending on the period in history.
Lowland Dry Acid Grassland is traditionally grazed by livestock in order to control the more vigorous coarser flora and produce a tall, fine sward suitable for invertebrates and wild flowers. However, this is an unsuitable management option at Rufford due to the amount of visitors that use the site, so we do the next best thing. The grassland is cut in late September/early October and the horizons removed to reduce the intake of nutrients from the rotting cut sward, it is then chain harrowed every 2 years in February to break up the grass thatch and promote a finer sward growth. Any dead matter that is left lying on the ground can have adverse effects on this habitat as it changes the PH in the soil that can be detrimental to the species that call the meadow home. A good example of this is the leaching of the limestone path that runs at the side of the meadow, if you look at it closely you can see the colour change from green to brown.
The meadow is home to a wide variety of species such as;
Bitter Vetch (Lathyrus montanus) – Occasional
Common mouse-ear (Cerastium holosteoides) (C.fontanum) – Rare
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) – Occasional
Devils Bit Scabious (Succisa pratensis) – Frequent
|Devils Bit Scabious|
Pignut (Conopodium majus) – Frequent
Smooth Meadow Grass (Poa pratensis) - Frequent
Wood Betony (Stachys betonica) – Occasional
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium - Occasional
Bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) - Rare
Common Knapweed (Centaurea nigra) – Frequent
Common Bent (Agrostis capillaries) - Dominant
Heath Bedstraw (Galium saxatile) - Occasional
Sheep’s Fescue (Festuca ovina) - Abundant
Sweet Vernal Grass (Anthoxanthum odoratum) - Frequent
Tormentil (Potentilla erecta) - Occasional
White (Dutch) Clover (Trifolium repens) - Abundant
Yorkshire Fog (Holcus lanatus) - Dominant
Yellow Stagshorn ((Calocera viscosa)
Devil’s Fingers (Clathrus archeri)
The site has been managed according to its vegetation Classification since 2009 (pre this it had 1 annual cut a year) and we have seen a significant improvement in its floral composition and diversity over the past 5 years and continue to work to improve and enhance its condition.