sowing a meadow in the south downs

Here at the highest house in the South Downs, we are sowing a meadow that we hope will help support a rare and precious habitat that is found in the areas surrounding the house.

Formed from a thick band of ancient chalk, the rolling hills of the South Downs are home to chalk grassland,  an incredibly biodiverse habitat where up more than 40 flowering species can grow in just one square metre and these plants go on to support a wide range of insects. Because of changing farming practices, over 80% of the chalk grasslands of the South Downs have disappeared since the end of the Second World War. It’s really important that we do what we can to help support the biodiversity of the South Downs.

Chalk grasslands occur when there is a thin layer of soil covering the chalk and we are trying to replicate that with the new meadow that we are sowing on the hill that leads up to the house. We spread a very thin layer of relatively poor soil over the chalk hillside and then spread a seed mix that we then rollered over to create good contact between the seeds and the soil. The seed mix is a carefully curated mixture of meadow species that would typically grow on chalky soil in these areas.

We can’t create a chalk grassland, these areas can only be restored and they tend to occur in small isolated patches often in danger of being swamped by encroaching scrub. But we hope that by creating this meadow it will at least help to maintain this precious and fragile habitat and be very beautiful for the many passers by as they walk in this area of the South Downs.