The culmination of ten months work and study, this new “book” is hot off the press and already being thumbed through on one of the hotel’s coffee-tables. To date, 322 species of wildflower have been identified on the farm, of which 308 are portrayed in this book of colour photos, grouped into families, including details of where they can be found.
Three areas of the farm are managed specifically for wildflowers, these being the Wildflower meadow, Castañarina meadow, and Cuevona meadow. Over 80% of the species identified have been found in these meadows, though many also appear elsewhere on the farm. Each meadow is managed in a different way:-
The Wildflower meadow is cut for hay in early July (exact timing depending on the weather), and grazed by sheep in late autumn or early winter. The wildflower meadow is small and dry, and characterised by its columbines and orchids in the spring, then a swaying carpet of yellow rattle in early summer. It has the greatest diversity of species per unit area of any of these three meadows.
La Castañarina meadow is cut for hay in July and grazed by sheep over the winter, with some areas grazed by our two Asturcon ponies in late summer. It is a large south-facing meadow, with several diverse habitat types, reflected in its having the greatest number of species (210) recorded in it of any of these three meadows. Three orchid species have been recorded only in this meadow (out of the ten found on the farm) – man orchid, autumn lady’s tresses, and small-flowered serapia.
Cuevona meadow is not cut for hay, but is grazed by sheep in early spring and early autumn. It contains some of the wettest areas on the farm, reflected in the species found there – bog pimpernel, heath spotted orchid, heath speedwell, compact and soft rushes, and wild angelica.
This area of Spain is regarded as having a high level of flora biodiversity, and the number of species found on the farm reflects this. Because we farm organically, with diverse cropping and grazing systems, and with wildlife in mind, the farm is a haven for wildflowers, insects, birds, and other forms of nature.
Now all that remains is to photograph the other 14 species – a farmer’s work is never done!
Entrance by Hugh Taylor