Mowing Flaxton Green
The Green looks lovely in spring with all its flowers in bloom, but as soon as it gets to May it starts to take on a less appealing appearance for those who like wildflowers, bees and nature conservation in general. When it was a grazing meadow, the grass was kept short by cattle belonging to the villagers with grazing rights on the common land. The Green is still owned by those with grazing rights and, as Common Land, is strongly protected in law, so unauthorised activities can be stopped.
The Green is now managed largely for nature conservation in the public interest and is designated by North Yorkshire County Council as a Site of Interest for Nature Conservation. The Flaxton Green Gait Owners receive Countryside Stewardship payments for complying with the recommended mowing regime to preserve the diversity of wild plants and that pays for mowing. No payment is received for the areas that do not comply.
The patchwork appearance of the Green may look unsightly both to those who would prefer it to look like a bowling green and those who would like a hay meadow full of wildflowers. Regular mowing with blades set at a low level to achieve a lawn is not suitable management for any area of the Green. Chemical weed killers must not be used, and any repairs must use the recommended grazing plant seed mix (available from the Green Gait Owners). However, research has shown that lawns cut only once a month attracted 10 times as many bees as swards cut more frequently, by allowing plants such as daisies and white clover to bloom for longer. Areas of long, unmown grass had more diverse, nectar-rich plants such as ox-eye daisy and knapweed, which increased the range of nectar sources and extended its availability into late summer. A patchwork of mowing is now seen as a good way of managing grass for wildlife, provided that it is not cut too short.
The Flaxton Green Gait Owners will cut the long grass after the end of June to allow the wildflowers to set seed. If you wish to cut the grass in front of your house, the nature conservation value of the Green will be enhanced if you cut no more than once a month to a height of one to two inches.