On a clear sunny day Julia Cooper led a group of 26 at Shear Down farm near Basingstoke. The farm is 3000 acres of which 2000 is mixed arable (Wheat, Barley and Oats) and 500 acres of woodland for firewood. It is unique in the fact that they grow Mint and Lavender which they process on the site to extract essential oils and then make their own food and cosmetic products. Our main interest was in the areas of set-aside which bordered and intersected the fields and the species rich hedgerows which lined the roads. The farm does not have access to water and is in a rain shadow so this year has been particularly difficult for the Mint.
The first field margin we visited (a Barley field used to supply local brewers) was deliberately seeded with grasses and wild flowers (Clover, Bird’s-foot Trefoil, Lucerne, Melilot, Pineappleweed)which gave a succession of flowering times to sustain the insect life through the season.
The second field was part Barley and part seeded with wild flowers and grasses and divided by a wide boundary of Chicory a good bird seed plant. The seeded area contained species such as: Sunflowers, Field Madder, Field Pansy, Buckwheat, Dwarf Toadflax, Rye Brome, Sorghum, Goat’s Rue and Phacelia.
The Mint was Black Mitcham Mint which is a very dark leaved and extremely strong smelling variety. Because of the poor rainfall this year the mint was fairly small and this had left plenty of space for wild species such as, Small Toadflax, Fat-hen, Creeping Thistle, Spear Thistle, Field Bindweed, Dwarf Spurge, Sun Spurge, Black-bindweed, Nipplewort, Field-forget-me-not, Wild Parsnip, Creeping Buttercup, Common Ragwort, Groundsel, White Campion, Perennial Sow-thistle, Prickly Sow-thistle, Wall Speedwell, Common Field-speedwell and Green Pig Weed.
The final margin was rich in arable weeds and was ploughed each year to encourage the growth of Greater Venus’s Looking –glass, Fool’s Parsley, Scarlet Pimpernel, Shepherd’s-purse, Common Fumitory, Cleavers, Cut-leaved Crane’s-bill, Dove’s-foot Crane’s-bill, Sharp-leaved Fluellen, Round-leaved Fluellen, Sainfoin, Prickly Poppy, Common Poppy, Field Madder, Scentless Mayweed, Narrow-fruited Cornsalad, Field Pansy, Restharrow, Common Cudweed
In the hedgerows we found Agrimony, Musk thistle, Common Knapweed, Greater Knapweed, Wild Basil, Hairy St John’s Wort, Field Scabious, Common Toadflax, Common Broomrape, Wild Mignonette, Bladder Campion, Black Bryony, Hedge Bedstraw, Goat’s-beard, Coltsfoot (leaves only) and Germander Speedwell.
Not many insects and birds were evident; we only recorded the Little Metallic Longhorn moth on Field Scabious and Cinnabar Moth caterpillars on Ragwort.
|Scientific name||British name||Scientific name||British name|
|Aethusa cynapium||Fool’s Parsley||Matricaria discoidea||Pineappleweed|
|Anagallis arvensis||Scarlet Pimpernel||Melilotus altissima||Tall Melilot|
|Capsella bursa-pastoris||Shepherd’s-purse||Myosotis arvensis||Field-forget-me-not|
|Chaenorhinum minus||Small Toadflax||Onobrychis viciifolia||Sainfoin|
|Chenopodium album||Fat-hen||Ononis repens||Common Restharrow|
|Cirsium arvense||Creeping Thistle||Papaver argemone||Prickly Poppy|
|Cirsium vulgare||Spear Thistle||Papaver rhoeas||Common Poppy|
|Convolvulus arvensis||Field Bindweed||Pastinaca sativa||Wild Parsnip|
|Euphorbia exigua||Dwarf Spurge||Ranunculus repens||Creeping Buttercup|
|Euphorbia helioscopia||Sun Spurge||Senecio jacobaea||Common Ragwort|
|Fallopia convolvulus||Black-bindweed||Senecio vulgaris||Groundsel|
|Filago vulgaris||Common cudweed||Sherardia arvensis||Field Madder|
|Fumaria officinalis||Common Fumitory||Silene latifolia||White Campion|
|Galium aparine||Cleavers||Sonchus arvensis||Perennial Sow-thistle|
|Geranium dissectum||Cut-leaved Crane’s-bill||Sonchus asper||Prickly Sow-thistle|
|Geranium molle||Dove’s-foot Crane’s-bill||Tripleurospermum odorum||Scentless Mayweed|
|Kickxia elatine||Sharp-leaved Fluellen||Valerianella dentata||Narrow-fruited Cornsalad|
|Kickxia spuria||Round-leaved Fluellen||Veronica arvensis||Wall Speedwell|
|Lapsana communis||Nipplewort||Veronica persica||Common Field-speedwell|
|Legousia speculum-veneris||Large Venus’s-looking-glass||Viola arvensis||Field Pansy|
|Plants sown for bird seed etc.|
|Borago officinalis||Borage||Helianthus annuus||Sunflower|
|Cichorium intybus||Chicory||Lotus corniculatus||Common Bird’s-foot-trefoil|
|Fagopyrum esculentum||Buckwheat||Phacelia tanacetifolia||Phacelia|
|Galega officinalis||Goat’s-rue||Trifolium pratense||Red Clover|
|Wild flowers in the hedgerows etc.|
|Agrimonia eupatoria||Agrimony||Linaria vulgaris||Common Toadflax|
|Carduus nutans||Musk thistle||Orobanche minor||Common Broomrape|
|Centaurea nigra||Common Knapweed||Reseda lutea||Wild Mignonette|
|Centaurea scabiosa||Greater Knapweed||Silene vulgaris||Bladder Campion|
|Clinopodium vulgare||Wild Basil||Tamus communis||Black Bryony|
|Galium mullugo||Hedge bedstraw||Tragopogon pratensis||Goat’s-beard|
|Hypericum hirsutum||Hairy St John’s-wort||Tussilago farfera||Coltsfoot (leaves only)|
|Knautia arvensis||Field Scabious||Veronica chamaedrys||Germander Speedwell|