Meet me in the Meadow

Boy exploring a wildflower meadow
Boy exploring a wildflower meadow

Oxeye daisies, ragged robin, yellow rattle and devil’s bit scabious – the beauty of a Northern Irish wildflower meadow is a wonder for everyone to enjoy.

This weekend, to celebrate these special spaces, and to raise awareness of their striking decline, the first ever National Meadows Day is being launched on Saturday 4 July 2015.

‘National Meadows Day provides a perfect opportunity to explore one of Fermanagh’s magnificent meadows, now wildflowers are in full bloom.’

Giles Knight Grassland conservation officer, Ulster Wildlife

“I’ve always loved wildflower meadows as they are in essence the very best that summer has to offer,” says TV presenter and naturalist Mike Dilger, who’s proud to be supporting National Meadows Day. “They are home to a wealth of rare plants and wildlife, and are fantastic places to nourish the body, mind and soul. I can count very few pleasures more enjoyable then visiting a meadow in the height of summer and getting down to the plants’ level with little more than my plant identification book and an eye lens! However, in recent years, we have lost an astonishing amount of our meadows. That’s why National Meadows Day is so important. This day of celebration is about engaging the public with these most precious of green spaces and showing what can be done to restore them, and ensure their safety for future generations.”

You can join in the meadow magic with Ulster Wildlife at Monastery meadows, below Mount Lourdes Grammar School in the heart of Enniskillen. From 11am to 1pm, families can enjoy searching for minibeasts and butterflies amongst the wildflowers. Moth traps will be set-up to uncover the meadow’s mysterious night life. There will also be an opportunity to discover how this glorious hay meadow, which was once a neglected site, has been restored, thanks to dedicated volunteers.

National Meadows Day aims to help the public connect and fall in love with wildflower meadows, and gain a better understanding of why these vital habitats need our help. The campaign is being organised by Save Our Magnificent Meadows – the UK’s largest partnership project to transform the fortunes of our vanishing wildflower meadows, grasslands and wildlife, led by Plantlife and primarily funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Marian Spain, chief executive of Plantlife, said: “I can’t think of a more pleasurable place to be than a meadow in midsummer but for many people this is now only a dream. Meadows have, for too long, been the Cinderellas of the conservation world – lesser known, lesser protected and lesser funded than other habitats. National Meadows Day and The Save Our Magnificent Meadows partnership are giving them the attention they deserve”.

Giles Knight, grassland conservation officer with Ulster Wildlife said: “National Meadows Day provides a perfect opportunity to explore one of Fermanagh’s magnificent meadows, now wildflowers are in full bloom, butterflies are on the wing and young birds are fledging. We hope it will inspire people to find more to enjoy, more to learn and more to value in these remaining special places, which are an important part of our natural and cultural heritage.”

For more information about Save Our Magnificent Meadows and National Meadows Day, visit www.magnificentmeadows.org.uk.