St. Mary’s, Tintern.

St  Mary’s Chuchyard  Conservation Group

We have now held three meetings – and are making progress.  A list of species found so far is attached,  which indicates that we should indeed be cutting the site as a flowering hay meadow .  According to the National Vegetation classification, this is MG5 grassland.  Unfortunately it has become overrun with bramble and coarse grasses. These will be cleared as far as possible, to leave a low sward with increasing biodiversity, as finer plants  will no longer be crowded out by  these vigorous and dominating plants, and additional species will find room to establish.  Cutting the sward in late July when most plants will have set seed, will release this seed to geminate on  any disturbed soil as next year’s  sward.   The Monmouth Meadows Group (MMG of which I am a Trustee)     collect seed from fine local meadows each year and will release some to us to help enrich the site.  A particularly important component of such a sward is Hay-rattle which is partially parasitic on coarse grasses and will help us to control these.  We shall sow this. It is very important to get plants to help us do the work, as well as to give pleasure. In my garden is a large population of Tintern spurge, which is sadly no longer widespread in Tintern.  I will bring seeds from this to suitable areas in St. Mary’s.

We have two important meetings coming up:

On June 4 we will try to finalise our species list for 2010. Beginning at 2.30 we will work through until  4, when it will be time for tea and cake overlooking the valley.   This is a meeting  for people more interested in learning about plants, we will pay particular attention to the grasses which will be easier to identify now they are in flower.

On July  25 at 2.30  we will cut and clear the sward, and hope that all those who can will bring scythes and strimmers  the Monmouthshire Meadows Group   has scythes,  brush cutters  and hay rakes, which will be made available, some members will likely come to help us.  This hard work will close with home- made lemonade, cider , sandwiches  and strawberries and cream.  If we have not finished we will work again on the following Sunday,  August 1.   Hope to see as many of you as possible.

You are all also warmly welcomed to the MMG open day on Sunday June 13, when some of the meadows the Group help with will be open to the public with guides to show you around.  There will be brochures in St Michaels, or please visit the website for more information.  Perhaps in a couple of years St Mary’s will join the sites to be opened.


Species found  in St Mary’s   Church-yard during early 2010

Grasses and monocots.  Sweet Vernal, Cat’s Tail, Red Fescue, Sheep’s Fescue,  Common Bent, Brown Bent, Creeping Bent, Crested Dogs Tail, False Oat, Cock’s Foot, Timothy. Twitch, Yorkshire Fog, Crow Garlic, Wild garlic, Bluebells, Snowdrops, Wild Daffodils, Carnation Sedge, Black Sedge, Common Yellow Sedge, Wood Sedge, lords and ladies. We have seen no orchids yet this year – but watch this space I think they will appear.

Dicots.  Knapweed,  Ox-eyed daisies, Meadowsweet,  Bistort,  sheeps sorrel,  broad-leaved and curled docks, meadow and creeping buttercups,  Golkdilocks, wood anemone,  primrose, fumitory, cuckoo flower, hairy bittercress , shepherds purse, common and dog’s violets, common and clustered mouse-ears , Bramble,  Ivy, stinging Nettle,  greater and lesser Stitchworts.    Dogs Mercury,  Dandelion, rough  and smooth Hawkbits, Nipplewort, Hieracium sp  Common and prickly Sowthistles,   marsh,  creeping  and spear Thistles,   Bush vetch, hairy tare, and  red clover,  we would hope to find birds-foot trefoil amongst  this group of plants,  and with management and possible introduction we expect to see it in coming years.

I could prepare a long list of plants which we might expect to find  – and may do so next year to get you all looking.

Ferns and mosses.   Male Fern, Lady Fern,  Shield and Harts tongue Ferns, bracken and several spleen-worts, one of which I am sending to a specialist to identify.    I have a long list of mosses, none , sadly, of great rarity, but have not included these here as most do not have common English names and I do not wish to discourage you.  If there are those amongst you who are really interested, I will run fungal and moss forays in the Autumn.

There are two decisions which we wish to take for which  I think we need to know if there are any objections.   The first is to remove ivy from all the tombstones to enable the lichens to spread.  We think that from an environmental point of view this can be done safely,  as there is sufficient  ivy on the ruined  church to provide habitat for insects and birds. Heather Colls has prepared a record of lichens for us.  We would  particularly wish to hear if any friends or relatives of the interred, object.  The second is to remove the two non-native conifers at the entrance to the church-yard whose roots  are gradually destroying the wall,  two local Yew trees will be planted  in their stead at some distance from the wall. Please send comments to the St Mary’s churchyard conservation Group  c/o the Rev.  Nora Hill.

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