TVWMRP plant propagation small-5872Community planting, Carnival Meadow, November 2021.
Photo Catriona Bass.


James Kemp, of Mill Street Eynsham, reports:

The floodplain meadows around Eynsham were once the village’s larder, medicine cabinet, and a regenerative source of nutritious grazing. They played an essential role in our bodily, economic, communal and mental well being. Meadows such as Long Mead are thousands of years old, and were once part of a continuous floodplain meadow stretching for miles along the Thames. Between the waterways, woodlands, people and wildlife of this area, a great diversity of life emerged above and below ground. Only four square miles remain today, across isolated pockets.


IMGsmall_8170Catriona showing a chart of the root depths of the different meadow plants - roots reach nearly 3m for some species!
Photo Kevan Martin


To help reverse this loss, 1.6 acres of the Playing Fields were spread with green hay containing seed from Long Mead last year. This autumn, members of Eynsham’s Nature Recovery Network gathered in Carnival Meadow, trowels in hand, ready to plant wildflowers. Among them were some of the Beavers who had planted flowers in St Leonard’s Churchyard earlier this year. By getting their hands dirty and seeing the difference they had made, the Beavers seem to have caught the nature restoration bug. This is wonderful! Not only because nature can be a companion and source of wonder for the rest of their lives, but also because nature restoration is a long game. The more young people understand how important nature restoration is, and the more connected with nature they feel, the more likely they are to lead nature restoration well into the future.

Restoring Carnival Meadow is part of a wider project: to restore and reconnect floodplain meadows around Oxford and upriver being undertaken by Long Mead’s Thames Valley Wildflower Meadow Restoration Project. If successful, this project will (re)connect multiple floodplain meadows; restoring an ancient landscape, and providing evidence of the amazing wealth of benefits they offer including effective and secure carbon storage. It will take patience, persistence, and lots of help.


collecting seed-5649Long Mead's Carefarming participants and Eynshamites collecting seeds from Long Mead - an ancient wildflower meadow.
Photo Catriona Bass


The flowers we planted were germinated from seeds donated from and grown on Long Mead, and cowslip plugs funded by the Eynsham Society. Each seed was carefully nurtured by the Nature Recovery Network’s wildflower group, working alongside adults with learning disabilities and autism who are part of Long Mead's care-farming programme.

The care-farming plant propagation for Eynsham's new meadows received support from the Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment (with Grundon Waste Management). And while Catriona and Kevan were away, a dedicated relay of people came to water the plants. It turns out that it takes a lot of people to plant a wildflower.

Wander through the meadow today and you’ll discover around 700 new specimens have been planted, including Ragged robin, Birdsfoot trefoil, Meadowsweet, Cowslip, and Common knapweed. Right now, those little plants are getting to know their neighbours, enriching the soil and a multitude of creatures. Come spring, they'll be getting ready to show off.

Click to learn about each of these plants and their significance in Long Mead's floodplain hay meadow: MeadowsweetRagged robinCommon knapweed,Birdsfoot TrefoilMeadow vetchlingTufted vetchLady’s smockCowslip

Please get in touch if you'd like to join the wildflower propagation group. We combine practical sowing, potting on and planting out around the Eynsham meadows with a study on the growing properties of individual wildflowers species as part of Long Mead's biodiversity research programme. So, if your interest is practical, scientific or social, come and join us.

We meet on a Wednesday between 10.30am and 2.30pm on Long Mead and are planning a second day in the new year.

Stop Press: Pots and seed trays are gratefully received at Long Mead Barn.