Monday, 17 April 2017


Spring 2016 and an unusual flower was seen growing in the orchard. Where had it come from? What was it? Why had it not been spotted before?
Normally the orchard, along with other grass areas in Mayow Park, has its first mowing in March. But early 2016 was very damp and the ground was waterlogged. Any vehicle trying to mow would have got bogged down in the heavy clay. This was fortunate for Lady's Smock (cardamine pratensis), also called cuckoo flower, which likes damp grassland. A member of the cabbage family, it flowers from March to early June. It had not been spotted before because the mowing regime for amenity grassland in the park prevented it from growing in its natural habitat.

According to The Wildlife Trusts
Only 1,600 hectares of floodplain meadows are left within the whole of the UK, in a landscape which was abundant with this habitat. Cuckoo flowers, once common, are therefore becoming a rarer sight. The Wildlife Trusts look after many meadow and wetland habitats for the benefit of local wildlife and are working closely with farmers, landowners and developers to promote wildlife-friendly practices in these areas.

This plant is unusual in the borough of Lewisham.  There followed negotiations followed with Lewisham Greenscene and with Glendale (the contractors who manage the park on behalf of Lewisham) and a map of the site containing the flowers was drawn up.

 As from early this year it was finally confirmed that mowing the grass in the orchard would be delayed until the end of May to allow the plants to flower and set seed. So don't despair if the grass in the orchard looks unkempt - it is intentional and not an oversight.
Thank you to park users who identified the plant and to Lewisham and Glendale for agreeing this change.

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