1st June 2021
Update from our EcoChurchyard! There are seasonal things to spot on the north side of the churchyard – look for the mounds made by the yellow meadow ants, the delicate speedwell flowers, oxeye daisies and yellow rattle! These are all signs of the ecosystem thriving on our little patch of creation.
19th January 2021
Iggy and Jeri
Ignatius and Jerome are our rector, Rev. Tim’s sheep. They are helping St. James Church, Ludgershall develop the new wildflower meadow on the north side of the church. This is part of our work as an A Rocha UK EcoChurch to care for God’s earth by tending the land and creatures entrusted to us, from sheep to slowworms. St. James achieved an EcoChurchBronze Award last year, and we are working towards a Silver Award.
The sheep are helping us in that effort by looking after the meadow over winter. Iggy is bigger and bolder than his sister Jeri, which is how you might tell them apart. They like a stroke but may try to eat your jumper! Iggy and Jeri love eating the hedge, trimming the margins, and munching down all the grass. They have really helped the other St. James churchyard workers to reduce the amount of strimming, raking, and lawnmowing required, which means we’re using less petrol, as well as saving our backs a bit.
In addition, Iggy and Jeri help the wildflowers, which we are eagerly anticipating this spring. They do this by eating the grass over the winter, which means that the flowers will be able to have a head start in the race with the grass for the sun and available nutrients. If you see an area Iggy and Jeri have grazed more heavily than another, it’s because the grass in that spot was really thick. We’d love for you to visit our churchyard and say hello to the sheep and have a look at the plants which are coming up. Do you see mostly grass? Or can you find something else? See if you can spot an anthill or an interesting plant.
Iggy and Jeri will be continuing their work in the churchyard until we start to see flowers poking up, then they will have to go back to Rev. Tim’s garden, because as much as they like grass, they like eating flowers even more!
14th September 2020
St James Wildflower Meadow Survey
The results are in from the latest wildflower meadow survey, which our friend and ecologist, Lydia Reese, conducted in August.
She sent us these results and notes below. It is encouraging news.
Course grasses 53%
Fine grasses 9%
Future aims: For fine grasses to see a significant increase in percent cover, as well as an increase in species diversity.
I did not identify all grass species present, but have provided species ID as I was able and classified the rest as ‘course’ or ‘fine,’ course assuming it is an agricultural grass species and fine assuming it is a native species. Please note the crested dog’s tail, a native grass, is present but rare. I seeded yellow rattle here from a local source in autumn 2019 and 2020, which as it spreads should help reduce the course grass coverage.
While surveying, and then later cutting for hay, we noted frogs (5-10) and a slowworm!
8th August 2020
Arocha Bronze Award
After much hard work to better care for our earth, St. James has been awarded a Bronze Eco Church Award from the Christian environmental charity A Rocha UK.
To earn the award, St. James has been developing our worship, teaching, and outreach about caring for creation through writing nature articles, working with the Scouts to improve habitat for wildlife in the churchyard, decreasing our carbon footprint and energy usage, and developing a wildflower meadow on the north side of the churchyard to encourage native wildflowers.
We were thrilled to discover that wildflower seeds harvested locally and seeded in the
wildflower area have flowered this summer! These yellow rattle (Rhinanthus minor) flowers are semi-parasitic on grass, and along with Rev. Tim’s sheep, will help us slowly reduce the density of the grass in order for even more flowers to thrive in the future.
St. James joins many other churches across our diocese working to improve our environment by becoming Eco Churches. The Bishop of Salisbury, Rt. Rev. Nicholas Holtam, said in an interview with the diocesan newsletter that becoming an Eco Diocese, “Shows that as a Diocese we recognise that the care for God’s creation is at the heart of ministry and mission.”
Nature note. To develop your own wildflower meadow, try leaving a patch of lawn to grow between March and September and see what plants grow. After the growing season, keep the grass short and remove cuttings, this will reduce the amount of grass and allow flowers and other species to flourish. If you would like to sow flower seeds later, do be careful to use local, native seeds, as many mixes available online can include invasive seeds which might harm our local environment.