Many of you will have enjoyed sledging down the car-park bank last winter, but this is what it looks like now.
A few years ago we decided allow the area immediately below the car park to develop into a meadow. Regular mowing was stopped, some wild flowers seeds sown, and meadow plug plants planted. On sunny days it is now a colourful and buzzing place as the wildflowers attract butterflies, bees, grasshoppers and many other insects. We mow the bank in late September, after the flowers have set seed, and remove the cuttings in order to keep the soil nutrient poor.
One of the seeds sown was yellow rattle (Rhinanthus minor). This plant was once frequently found in hay meadows but has become less common as modern farming methods favour vigorous rye-grass fields. Yellow rattle is a semi-parasitic plant that takes some of its nutrients from grasses, this results in the grass becoming less vigorous and allowing other plants to establish.
For this reason it is now commonly used in the establishment of wild flower meadows. The plant flowers from May to July and gets its name from the rattling of the ripe seeds within the dry seed capsules.