Everyone has noticed how beautiful the flowers on the campus are. Eye-catchers have included the pink ragged-robin and wild ox-eye daisies, and in the parts which are more sheltered from the wind there were five species of orchids, plus a very rare clover. In order to preserve these wonderful flowers we need to mow one or two times a year and remove the cuttings.
If we don't mow, the vegetation of the flower meadow will become denser and it will grass over, and the flowers and slow-growing grasses will disappear. Grass species and tall forbs react more strongly to fertiliser and nitrogen deposition from the air and will tend to displace the flowering plants.
Mowing and disposal of the cuttings is therefore carried out in the first place to diminish the soil quality and keep it poor in nutrients and so stimulate wild flowers.
The criterion for the first mowing date on campus is that the rattles in the Lumen garden have gone to seed. This species, together with a number of other root parasites, represent an important link in keeping the grasses down. Because they are parasitical on the roots of the grasses and thus 'steal' nutrients, they keep the grasses under control.
In consultation with the Lumen garden committee, it has been agreed that this year the water courses, pond edges and flower meadows will be largely mown from the second week of July. This means the work will begin next Monday (10 July). This schedule will facilitate a second flowering just after the summer.
Ditch edges and ponds
Work on the ditch edges will begin this weekend. These have to be mown in order to maintain a good flow (a requirement of the water board).
Mowing around the ponds is carried out in order to prevent silting up. To this end, in one half of the year half of the ponds are mown, and the other half of the ponds in the other half of the year, in order to maximise alternative refuge opportunities for fauna.
In the autumn, there will be a second mowing in some places and part of the grasslands not mown now will be mown for the first time.
A small part of the grasslands will not be mown at all in order to give insects a place to hibernate.
Time of mowing
To a large extent, the time of mowing determines which plant species can or cannot go to seed. However, facilitating all species would mean an overly complicated and hence overly expensive schedule.
Mowing twice a year means there are still places on campus with food and hibernation places for insects, including our 'own' campus bees on the Fields. The wet nature garden is being mown in its entirety this time because the vegetation is still quite thick and it first needs to be depleted of biomass and thus nutrients.
If this becomes less necessary at a later stage, we will introduce a varied mowing schedule for the wet nature garden too.
For more background information about our flourishing campus, see also the presentation on what was planted in 2015/2016 and why.
Click here for an impression of the flora and fauna on campus.