The art of meadow science

Jane Thatcher

Flowery meadows
Living, complex, floral mosaics, from
Oxford University fields to Yarnton Meads.
Opportunities for Biodiversity Net Gain and carbon off-setting, but diversity matters.  Developing roots deep, intermediate and shallow into the soil,
Providing and building resilience in times of unprecedented
Levels of rainfall and environmental pressures,
And if we work gracefully, and in tune, with natural processes, supporting multifunctionality through a multidisciplinary approach.
Interconnectedness, incorporating knowledge strewn and shared by a cohort of interested individuals
No-one expert of all; everyone an expert in their own field.

Buttercup meadow by Jane Thatcher
© Jane Thatcher

In an ancient, and a neighbouring ‘reclaimed’, reseeded meadow on the outskirts of Oxford, on first glance, fields of buttercups - both bulbous and meadow - in a painterly way swayed in the summer sunshine, only to find - on closer scrutiny - an average of 30 and 25 species per square metre, respectively (Thanks, Irina).   Given the right conditions, and with the assistance of the ‘meadow maker’, Yellow Rattle (Rhinathus minor), nature in its diversity, flourishes.

The conference enabled delegates from all backgrounds to mix, blend, share expertise, ideas; a chance to experience and view floodplain meadows - from plants to soil to water to people to livestock to their dynamic nature - and their role in tackling some of our greatest challenges. 

A perfectly balanced, multidisciplinary approach, to explore the complexity and interconnectedness of the science and social science of floodplains and the management of meadows that flood.   A 2-day community created by the gathering of individuals, each bringing their own peculiarity, qualities and knowledge discussing the benefits of creating a diverse community of individual species, each bringing their own peculiarity, qualities and functions. 

The science and art of making meadows, combined with the making of meadow art.  Interested individuals drawn from a range of backgrounds, expertise, understanding, and connection to meadows: scientists, artists, ecologists, land managers, growers, farmers, volunteers, quietly demonstrated a true understanding that multifunctionality of meadows requires a multidisciplinary approach; greater than the sum of it’s parts.  

It is the complexity and multifunctionality of diversity in all things that makes the world a place of function and beauty.  Once again, it seems many of our greatest challenges stem from commercial decisions based on simplifying and eeking out every last drop, while the meadow holds back the flood.  

Meadow survey by Jane Thatcher
© Jane Thatcher


Buttercup meadow by Jane Thatcher
© © Jane Thatcher