South Lawn Wild Meadow Establishment Project
As a community, we are becoming increasingly aware of our collective responsibility to steward Ashburnham Place in a way that cares for and enhances our natural environment, doing everything we can to reduce carbon levels and waste as well as increase species.
We have made a great start in this, including installing a biomass boiler – which means that our fuel for heating and hot water is from a sustainable carbon-neutral source. We don’t use any chemical sprays in the Kitchen Garden or wider grounds and our recycling programme means that much of our waste is used to make compost to enrich the land, which in turn benefits the produce we are able to grow. This also helps keep our landfill waste to a minimum.
Much of the land is already being managed to enhance biodiversity and we are beginning to see the benefits of this. A recent bee survey recorded 30 different species on-site, a reflection of the high quality of woodland and grasslands.
We are enjoying the interdependence we see within our natural environment, in which we have our part to play. We see diversity and the interdependency within creation, a reflection perhaps of how God intended community?
We are always looking at ways to steward Ashburnham Place and the magnificent 220 acres of land better; we are embarking this autumn on an exciting project to improve plant and species diversity on South Lawn, with the creation of a wildflower meadow.
Where is South Lawn?
For those of you less familiar with Ashburnham Place, South Lawn is a large area of grassland situated between the driveway and Broad Water Lake, popular as a football pitch and for other leisure activities.
What’s it like at the moment?
During the grass growing months South Lawn is cut weekly, similar to that of a sports field and provides space for a wide range of activities, it plays host to football matches, charity running races, volleyball, school camps, triathlons and summer camps, but under its current management contributes very little to the natural environment.
What’s the plan?
We’d like to continue using South Lawn as a leisure area but with significant space set aside as a wildflower meadow. This will provide an environment that supports a wide range of different flower species, habitats for a diverse range of insects, from bees and beetles to grasshoppers and butterflies, these then support many smaller animals and birds.
We would continue to mow areas for the football pitch and volleyball and create walkway paths that meander through the meadow so that guests can enjoy the area for leisure activity as well as explore the myriad of different flora and fauna.
In the spring the grasses and flowers will begin to grow, which will continue to mid-July, when the meadow would be cut for hay, in advance of summer camps.
Once all the summer groups have finished and the leaves begin to take on the browns, reds and yellows of autumn, we are proposing that sheep graze South Lawn; nature’s organic lawnmowers! Existing uses of South Lawn would continue; simply the space would be shared.
To ensure this area is developed sensitively and excellently we will continue to draw upon the expertise from the High Weald AONB Unit and our partner organisation A Rocha UK.
Grazing off the meadowland is an important management tool; it encourages the flower plant species, beds in last season’s wildflower seed and prevents the grasses from becoming matted. The proposal would be that sheep would graze the area from mid-September through to the following March
What’s the impact?
Grazing sheep will change the feel and aesthetics of South Lawn, for starters, a temporary fence would need to be put up to stop the sheep from straying; pedestrian access would be via stiles or gates so the area can still be used as before.
We recognise that bringing sheep onto South Lawn over the winter months will have an impact. We think that as well as the good it does to the wildflower meadow, being around animals has therapeutic benefits for us, but before considering this further, we’d like to know your views.
If you would like more information regarding the project contact us