It is easy to drive past Eades Meadow and not even know it is there and yet it is one of the richest landscapes in the country. Beyond the small gate is a glorious meadow full of wild flowers. King Charles I School Orchid club students and staff arrived to a vision of purple green winged orchids spread throughout the meadow, unfortunately a less common site across the country. Students observed the native British orchids in their natural habitat and increased their understanding and reasoning for the orchid seed storage and seed germination projects in which they are involved.
Eades Meadow is a National Nature Reserve and a Site of Special Scientific Interest, managed by Worcestershire Wildlife Trust. It is one of the best examples of a neutral lowland unimproved meadow in Europe. Over 180 plant species have been recorded at the site, an average of 40 species per square metre – this huge diversity gives rise to a myriad of other species that rely on the plants as producers: Students discussed the food webs involved. We observed other native species that are in decline including cowslips, yellow rattle and adders tongue fern. Students discussed the soil type, structure and land management (a traditional agricultural system that co-exists with wildlife), as well as the conservation programme of the meadow, giving rise to the vast biodiversity.
The students hope to return to the meadow with staff from Worcestershire Wildlife Trust to observe the change in species at different times of the year and sample the orchids to estimate their population size. We hope that a project may develop where students are able to collect, grow and store seeds from the Eades Meadow orchids and reintroduce them to sites within the local area.
- Lisa Gray, Phil Seaton, Deb Lloyd