Somerset

Bath Skyline wildflower seeds vacuumed in nature project

Hoover in action Image copyright National Trust
Image caption The Bath Skyline has lots of yellow rattle flowers which are being vacuumed up

Flower seeds are being vacuumed up in Bath so they can be sowed in nearby hay meadows.

The vacuum is being used on the Bath Skyline to scoop up the yellow rattle seeds, which are then dried out.

National Trust area ranger, Rob Hopwood-Stephens, said: "The idea is to spread the yellow rattle seed, and lots of other wildflower seeds from some of our amazing hay meadows."

The seeds were previously gathered by hand in a labour-intensive process.

The vacuum, which has been loaned from the Avon Wildlife Trust, means the seeds can be collected between it ripening and being shed by the plant.

Mr Hopwood-Stephens said the yellow rattle plant is "really important in a wildflower hay meadow".

"It's a hemi-parasite that fixes its roots onto the root system of adjoining grass and extracts water and minerals from it.

"What that means is that it keeps the grass down and in a wildflower hay meadow what you want is loads of flowers and some grass, a bit of everything."

Image copyright National Trust
Image caption Yellow rattle flowers are used to stop wild grasses "bullying" other plants

Mr Hopwood-Stephens said wild grasses would "bully" other flowers out towards the hedgerows if yellow rattle was not in a wildflower meadow.

"We've got some incredible wildflower meadows in Smallcombe, just above Widcombe in Bath, and they really are original, they've never been ploughed.

"We have other meadows, which have been under restoration for the past few decades that were damaged in the post-war period after being ploughed and planted with barley.

"What you need to do is help them along by planting them with the yellow rattle."

The trust hopes to re-seed Bathwick Fields where the Bath Skyline walk starts and finishes.

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