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King’s College Cambridge lawn is a blooming wildflower meadow

It is one of the of the most iconic views of Cambridge University set around a pristine lawn that has been carefully maintained for centuries.

But now the sloping grass verge that sits between King’s College Chapel and the River Cam and has been neatly manicured since the 1720s has been transformed into a blooming wildflower meadow.

The spectacular transformation, which will last for the next three months, has come about as a result of an initiative to promote biodiversity and includes harebells, buttercups, poppies and cornflowers.  

It is hoped that the project will attract a variety of new insects with temporary paths also constructed to allow visitors to get a close-up view of the array of beautiful bright wildflowers now blooming in the Spring sunshine.  

Wildflowers are blooming on the pristine lawn at King's College in Cambridge which has been neatly manicured for 300 years

Wildflowers are blooming on the pristine lawn at King's College in Cambridge which has been neatly manicured for 300 years

Wildflowers are blooming on the pristine lawn at King’s College in Cambridge which has been neatly manicured for 300 years

The grass has been neatly mown since the 1720s and an area of the lawn is now a wildflower meadow to support biodiversity

The grass has been neatly mown since the 1720s and an area of the lawn is now a wildflower meadow to support biodiversity

The grass has been neatly mown since the 1720s and an area of the lawn is now a wildflower meadow to support biodiversity

The initiative, started by Geoff Moggridge, a fellow from the college, in 2018, received a groundswell of support from Head Gardener Steve Coghill, the Gardens Committee and the Fellows of Kings, and now the project has become a reality, with a section of the lawn turned into a wildflower meadow. 

The famous view of King’s College Chapel is popular among tourists looking to get the perfect snap for their Instagram and other social media pages.

But after 300 years of the grass being kept in pristine condition, the gardeners removed the well-established ‘keep off the grass’ signs to carry out the project.

Mr Coghill told the University’s website in January: ‘Grass lawns are essentially monocultures so it will be incredibly rewarding to instead create a biodiversity-rich ecosystem to cherish and enjoy, and in a time of climate change and fear of loss of species it is becoming more important.

‘Once it is all flowering it will be spectacular; there will be a riot of colour in the summer.’

Photographs showcasing the wildflower meadow with the backdrop of the College's famous Chapel have been published

Photographs showcasing the wildflower meadow with the backdrop of the College's famous Chapel have been published

Photographs showcasing the wildflower meadow with the backdrop of the College’s famous Chapel have been published

The college hopes the flowers will attract a large variety of insects, which are crucial to healthy ecosystems

For 300 years, the lawn has been kept in pristine condition before a 2018 project saw part of the grounds transformed. This picture was taken before the lawn was converted into a wildflower meadow.

For 300 years, the lawn has been kept in pristine condition before a 2018 project saw part of the grounds transformed. This picture was taken before the lawn was converted into a wildflower meadow.

For 300 years, the lawn has been kept in pristine condition before a 2018 project saw part of the grounds transformed. This picture was taken before the lawn was converted into a wildflower meadow.

Once the wildflowers have finished flowering they will be harvested for hay and the lawn will be mown again. Then next year the process will be repeated.

Caroline Fitton, spokeswoman for the Wildlife Trust in Cambridgeshire, told the BBC in January:  ‘More establishments are realising it’s pointless having a green space monoculture which no-one is allowed or encouraged to use.

‘Anyone walking through will be delighted to see buzzing bees, butterflies and other pollinators all enjoying a new habitat. It’s currently very species-poor grass, with few invertebrates of interest, so using native, sustainable meadow plants is a superb replacement.’

The King’s College in Cambridge was founded in 1441 by King Henry VI. The College’s original site was north of the current College, between the present Chapel and Senate House Passage. The College was later sold to the University, which went on to demolish most of it apart from the gateway arch close to Clare College.

Bright wildflowers, including harebells, buttercups, poppies and cornflowers are now blooming in the Spring sunshine

Bright wildflowers, including harebells, buttercups, poppies and cornflowers are now blooming in the Spring sunshine

Bright wildflowers, including harebells, buttercups, poppies and cornflowers are now blooming in the Spring sunshine

Once the wildflowers have flowered they will be harvested for hay and the lawn will be mown again the following year

Once the wildflowers have flowered they will be harvested for hay and the lawn will be mown again the following year

Once the wildflowers have flowered they will be harvested for hay and the lawn will be mown again the following year

The iconic view of King's College Chapel with its perfect lawn sloping down to the River Cam is one of the city's best-known images and hugely popular with tourists

The iconic view of King's College Chapel with its perfect lawn sloping down to the River Cam is one of the city's best-known images and hugely popular with tourists

The iconic view of King’s College Chapel with its perfect lawn sloping down to the River Cam is one of the city’s best-known images and hugely popular with tourists

It is thought that sheep and horses may have been the most effective way of keeping the lawns prim and proper before the creation of the mechanical lawnmower in 1831.  

Alumni of King’s College include poet Phineas Fletcher, Sir Robert Walpole, a former Prime Minister, John Bird Sumner, a former Archbishop of Canterbury, and Zadie Smith, a novelist and essayist.  

Source: Daily Mail – Articles

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