This week the Clyde Muirshiel Ranger team have begun cutting back the meadow at Johnshill in Lochwinnoch. Although strimmers are used to cut some of it, most of it is cut using scythes. This is done to help maintain the meadow and promote the growth of flowers such as clovers, knapweed, yellow rattle and yarrow, plus the pollinating bees and other insects which rely on them.
With the scythes the vegetation is cut cleanly, then it’s removed by raking a short while later so to allow the cut flowers to set seed. If the meadow was cut by mowing or strimming then the messier cut would add nutrients to the soil. This would allow more aggressive grasses, nettles and thistles to grow over the meadow, crowding out the more delicate flowers and reducing the plant diversity. By cutting it this way, it helps keep the meadow diverse and benefits the wildlife using it.
Ranger Pat has taught the Castle Semple Seasonal Rangers Allan and Hélène how to use the scythes properly and safely. The team, including with much appreciated help from one of the weekly volunteers, have already cut over half the meadow after a few days. In the recent warm, sunny weather, it’s been tiring but rewarding work!