Image of a wooden gate into a meadow
Birdsfoot Trefoil
Devils Bit Scabious
Genny Early
Great Burnet
Meadow Buttercup
Nesting birds
Quaking Grass
Ragged Robin
Salad Burnet
Tony Davis
Wild Thyme

'The Dene' Wildflower Meadow Restoration Project

We live and work in a cottage called 'Dene Edge' in Stonesfield, a village in West Oxfordshire, with the field behind our home and studio being called 'The Dene'. We have recently leased 'The Dene' from the Blenheim Estate for an initial period of 5 years with the aim of restoring the biodiversity of this 1.4 acres of grassland, to bring back the wild flowers, butterflies, bees and other invertebrates. Wild flower meadows are one of the rarest habitats in the UK and we have lost 97% of our wild flower meadows since the 1930s.

Landscape aerial image of 'The Dene'

Wild flowers grow best in low nutrient soil, so the initial aim is to reduce the enrichment of the soil through grazing in the winter/early spring, and taking a haycut and removing the hay in the summer, followed by aftermath grazing.

Image of sheep grazing Dene EdgeImage of sheep grazing Dene Edge

There may be seeds in the existing seedbank that will be allowed to flourish by reducing the vigorous grasses, cow parsley and nettles. Additional species will be brought in by using local green hay.

The bottom of the field is marshy and prone to flooding, so may support wetland species such as Bugle, Meadowsweet, Ragged Robin, Meadow Buttercup, Great Burnet and Devils Bit Scabious.

The drier sides of the valley could support some of the calcareous plants seen on Stonesfield Common SSSI such as Birdsfoot Trefoil, Knapweeds, Scabious, Quaking Grass, Wild Thyme, and Salad Burnet. Some unmown and ungrazed edges will be left around the field to provide good habitat for invertebrates, refuge for reptiles and amphibians, and scrub areas for nesting birds.

July 2022 Update:
After the initial grazing by some very lovely ewes and their cheeky lambs, the sheep have gone on their summer holiday and the field has been topped to help reduce the tussocks and increase the light and air available to all species. Whilst walking around the meadow, Genny has already noted Lady's Bed Straw, Birdsfoot Trefoil and Knapweed! We're hoping the sheep will be back in the autumn. Here's what the meadow looks like today (6th July 2022):
Image of a dry stone wall with a field behind

If you are interested in getting involved or would like to learn more, please contact Follow our wildflower meadow restoration project updates here on the blog, or via our social media accounts on facebook, Instagram and twitter.