How amazing it is that in urban Arnos Vale we can enjoy flowery meadow, nationally a very rare habitat these days. Known as unimproved grassland, it’s never been ploughed and reseeded, or fertilised, to improve it for agricultural output.
You’ve probably noticed how colourful the lower cemetery is now, with the pinks of common restharrow, yellows of ladies bedstraw and bird’s-foot trefoil (which can also have orange in the flowers giving it the name eggs and bacon!), the purples of common vetch, whites of wild strawberry (with its delicious if diminutive fruits) and the gorgeous pale mauves of field scabious. These are all plants that are sadly lacking from so much of the countryside today.
Buttercups provided a great show this spring. Did you know there are 3 types at Arnos Vale? Near the West Lodge you can find bulbous buttercup, which strangely has its sepals (the little cup-like bracts just under the flower) curled right back over themselves.
If you look closely into the meadow there are smaller plants too, the tiny yellow baubles of black medick (the seeds are black) and the brilliant blues of germander speedwell.
By not cutting the grass until late summer/early autumn these plants are able to thrive.
And the best thing about these native species is that they support a host of other wildlife too - such as bees, butterflies and other invertebrates - providing not only nectar to the pollinators but leaves for caterpillars and other larvae, which most exotic species, beautiful though they are, just can’t do.
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Field Scabious with butterfly and bee
Learn more on a guided tour with Mary Wood on Saturday, July 16 at 10:30am. Mary will take you on a journey around our beautiful summer flowers, telling you about the landscape, the plants and how Arnos Vale is cared for. The cemetery is a Site of Nature Conservation Interest and is carefully managed for people and wildlife.
Arnos Vale Cemetery Trust is a registered charity. We receive no regular council or government funding. Every £1 we raise goes directly into enhancing and protecting this special place so that it can be shared with the Bristol community, and beyond. We are always grateful for donations, however small.
If you would like to donate, you can do so here. Thank you.