A few days of sun and what a difference - now the grass needs cutting. This is for practical reasons in the playground and car park, but even here we leave the grass long enough to let the wild flowers grow and these will provide nectar for the bees. This year has seen a lot of interest on TV for gardening for wildlife, and setting the lawn mower blades a little higher, using less fertiliser and letting a few weeds such as clover to grow and flower will help attract pollinating insects. Choice of garden plants is also important, but this is easier now that there are labels with a bee to show the plant is good for pollinators.
Our Shetland sheep help with grass cutting and they were on Haverton Hill in the winter to keep the grass in check, remove nutrients and so let the wild flowers have a chance. Now the wildflower walk is coming into its own with the cowslips just finishing and the vetches taking over, soon to be followed by the bird's-foot trefoil and knapweed. Some plants are more unusual.
This hoary cress shows why this part of the reserve has good biodiversity. The thin soil over old industrial land suits it well, and it is found mainly near ports, roads and railways on the east side of England having come here from the south of Europe a long time ago. On the more fertile parts of the reserve it will be swamped by grass, or grazed by the sheep or cattle.
The rich variety of plant life gives a good variety of animal life so it is the place to hear skylarks and see butterflies such as this wall brown seen late this afternoon at the edge of the path.
In his forecast for May Adam showed the Garlic Mustard which is the food plant of the Orange Tip caterpillar. We like to have this plant under our hawthorn trees but it is not the best garden plant - however, the garden plant Honesty is just as good for the Orange Tip as both live together in the south of Europe.