With such a diverse range of habitats on the farm, it’s not surprising that – including the lower plants – we’ve found well over five hundred species here.
The meadows alone have sixteen types of grass, together with colourful flowers like bird’s-foot trefoil, bugle, knapweed, yellow rattle and rough hawkbit. One field has the uncommon adder’s tongue fern, and some areas have a profusion of southern and early marsh orchids.
Marshy areas hold some of our most interesting species. Cattle graze back the tussocks of purple moor-grass, and create space for whorled caraway, tawny and pale sedge, dyer’s greenweed, petty whin, saw-wort and several different species of Sphagnum moss. Wet flushes arising from strong springs are dominated by yellow flag iris and sharp-flowered rush; here too there are rarities like wavy st john’s wort and mosses not known elsewhere in south Pembrokeshire.
Bushes of hazel, hawthorn, blackthorn and bramble surround many of the fields. We’re yet to name all the different species of bramble here but we know which are favoured by the bees, which ones have nesting whitethroats, and which produce the best early blackberries. Taller trees are mostly found on the boundary banks, with some fine specimens of ash, pedunculate oak, aspen and crab apple. Around some of the woodland edge, we’ve been re-working old coppice of ash, hazel or grey willow. The ground flora responds with spring-time displays of wood anemone, primrose and sanicle.
Deeper into the woods, the wet clay soils support a tangle of big, sprawling willows, hung with ferns like the common polypody and carpeted with mosses and liverworts. Opposite-leaved golden saxifrage is a typical streamside plant here, along with remote sedge and marsh marigolds. One rare plant – three-lobed water crowfoot – appeared in the wet woods for a few years after the previous owner cleared the boundary, but the continuing cattle trampling has so far failed to maintain the bare, muddy conditions that this plant needs. Such losses are few, and our plant list continues to grow!
An article about plants on the farm written for the Botanical Society of the British Isles can be found here on page 5.