Wildflower Enhancement of Community Meadows in Eynsham: Nature Recovery Network Case Study

Community case studies


The Nature Recovery Network (NRN), based in Eynsham and the surrounding area, has initiated a pioneering, local-network, approach to nature recovery that connects experts with enthusiasts in the place where they all live. The NRN is a network of over 600 members and includes local experts, enthusiasts, schools, farmers, businesses, artists, community groups and Parish Councillors in Eynsham and surrounding villages. It also works with people with learning difficulties and those facing health challenges. The NRN’s vision is to create a 'bottom-up' network of people to conserve and create a mosaic of connected habitats in the local area. extended this community-driven, landscape-scale restoration. It is Oxfordshire’s first community-driven landscape-scale restoration and research project.

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In 2018, we initiated two major projects at Long Mead: The Long Mead Biodiversity Research Project and the Thames Valley Wildflower Meadow Restoration Project (TVWMRP). TVWMRP is a farmer and landowner-led initiative which aims to connect up the fragments of ancient floodplain wildflower meadow along the Thames (of which only 4 square miles remain in the UK) by restoring or re-creating the intervening meadows to create a continuous meadow network.

In 2020, the NRN created five community meadows in Eynsham with funding from Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment (TOE).  We took a number of grassed areas and prepared and seeded them with wildflowers. The largest meadow is planned over time to connect to the fragmented, ancient floodplain meadows still surviving along the Thames between Eynsham and Oxford. New leases on intervening fields downstream have extended this community-driven, landscape-scale restoration.  

The meadows created were developing well, however we decided to enhance them further with wildflowers.   We received some funding from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) to carry out some further wildflower enhancement of these areas.  The meadows to be enhanced included: Dovehouse Close meadows areas; Carnival Meadow, within the Playing Fields and the largest of the meadow projects at approximately 1 acre and Fishponds Meadow, which is part of Abbey Fishponds nature reserve

Planning and Delivery of the Project

Yellow Rattle seed was sown to help increase the botanical diversity due to its ability to weaken the dominance of grass (yellow rattle seed is semi-parasitic on grasses). This is particularly important for the Playing Fields meadow since it is cut before the yellow rattle sets seed. Without yellow rattle, the grasses will begin to dominate and the wildflowers will be shaded out. 

We wanted to enhance the early spring flowering, particularly on the Playing Fields as it is cut before some of the iconic meadow species flower.  We planted Snakeshead-Fritillary bulbs on these meadow areas.

We also planted out hand-propagated in the meadows. These are grown on Long Mead with the NRN volunteers, which include several regular groups: Bartholomew School Year 11 А Band (fortnightly), Long Mead Carefarming (Weekly - working with local adults with learning disabilities and autism and including around 10 NRN volunteers from Eynsham). Other groups involved throughout the year include, Bartholomew Sixth Form, Scouts and Beavers, Primary Schools (Eynsham and Cassington). 


We held several volunteer days over from autumn 2023 to early spring 2024 to carry out the planting.  Thirty volunteers from the NRN attended a planting session at Carnival Meadow towards the end of October 2023.  Yellow Rattle seed, Devils-Bit Scabious and Snakeshead Fritillary bulbs were among the species of wildflower planted and will provide colour for visitors and a much-welcome nectar source to local bumblebees, moths and butterflies.

Over 4,000 rare wildflower hand-grown by the community in Eynsham and planted out in Autumn 2023 in 5 community sites and 2 landscape scale restoration sites in Eynsham and 4  sites elsewhere.

Challenges and Lessons Learned

As the NRN is a large community group which works across parish boundaries, it was a shame not to be able to use any of the funding for our joint projects with neighbouring groups and Parish Councils.  The UKSPF grant we received for nature recovery projects was geared towards Town and Parish Councils.  The NRN is administered financially separately from the Eynsham Parish Council, and therefore it was helpful to have agreement that communication and accounting could proceed directly with the NRN.

Plans for the Future

We will continue with our management and enhancement of the community meadows as part of our wider vision of the NRN.  

We will also be monitoring the success of propagated plants in the field.  We are using metal markers and a metal detector to further pinpoint monitoring locations more accurately within an area we have GIS data for.

Nature Recovery Network | (nature-recovery-network.org)

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