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Magical Meadows – Celebrate summer at Wakehurst Place

Celebrate the beauty and importance of meadows, the plants that make them special, and the traditions and wildlife that depend on them, at the Magical Meadows Summer Festival at Wakehurst Place, near Haywards Heath, West Sussex.

Visitors will be able to discover Wakehurst’s beautiful wildflower meadows and enjoy a range of special events taking place during June, July and August, at the 500-acre country estate of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

  • Step back in time and see magnificent heavy horses chain-harrowing Bloomers Valley meadows
  • Enjoy a glass of local cider watching experts keep traditional skills alive in a Scything and Cider weekend
  • See how hay was traditionally harvested in a Bringing in the Hay weekend
  • See barn owls, hawks, falcons and other birds of prey at close range and learn why meadows and pastures are so important to their survival. (See dates below)

The meadows of Wakehurst’s Bloomers Valley will provide the backdrop to many of the special events.

These have been created in the past few years by sowing locally harvested wildflower seed and planting thousands of wildflower plant plugs, to create a quintessential English meadow teeming with wildlife.

Throughout the summer visitors can follow a wild flower trail around the meadows, spotting highlights such as oxeye daisy and dyer’s greenweed and visit an exhibition to learn more about them.

Iain Parkinson, Wakehurst’s Conservation and Woodland Manager, said:

'Our Magical Meadows festival promises to be a fun an informative celebration of the meadows we have here at Wakehurst.

'The meadows in Bloomers Valley are characteristic of those found in the High Weald of Sussex and are managed in the traditional way by taking a hay cut in late summer and by grazing in the autumn. They look their best through July and August, when they are always popular with our visitors, but there is botanical interest all through the year.'

He added:

'Flower-rich hay meadows like Bloomers Valley were once a common sight, but they are now a threatened resource, covering just 1% of the UK. The festival will be a chance to discover the beauty and importance of meadows, as a place to connect with nature and the cultural history of an area, but most crucially as a vital habitat which supports a wide range of range of invertebrates, birds and other animals, many of them rare or scarce, including the pollinators which pollinate many of our food crops.'

Magic Meadows Summer Festival Events:

Birds of Prey 28 and 29 June, 19 and 20 July, 24 August -  Displays by Huxley's Birds of Prey.

Scything and Cider Festival 19 and 20 July  - Discover why scything today is undergoing a renaissance by watching the experts compete in the first Wakehurst Regional Scythe Championship  and enjoy a glass or two of local cider as you watch the competition.

Bringing in the Hay 9 & 10 August - See how hay is made at Wakehurst and learn why haymaking is such a vital process to managing flower-rich meadows.

Working Horse Trust 24 & 25 August -  See the horses up close and speak to the handlers to learn how working horses still have an important role to play in the  conservation of our woodlands and meadows.

Entry to all events is included in admission to Wakehurst, accompanied under-17s are admitted free.

Further information:

For more information call Iain Parkinson or Sarah Cameron on 01444 894067, Kew press office on 020 8332 5607 or email pr@kew.org.

To download images of Wakehurst Place:http://www.kew.org/press/images/wakehurst/wakehurst_%20index.html      
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Wakehurst Place

Wakehurst Place is the country estate of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and home to formal gardens, natural woodlands, nature reserves, and a sixteenth century mansion. Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank, located at Wakehurst, is the largest wild plant seed collection in the world. The Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and its partners have collected and conserved seed from 10% of the world’s wild flowering plant species (c. 30,000 species) and aim to conserve 25% by 2020.

Wakehurst is on the B2028 between Ardingly and Turners Hill (Junction 10 off the M23), West Sussex, RH17 6TN and open every day from 10am, except December 24 and 25. For more information ring 01444 894067 or visit www.kew.org.