After a patient wait, Herefordshire Wildlife Trust is delighted to open our new Visitor Centre at Birches Farm nature reserve. Tucked off the road between Eardisley and Kington are sixty acres of traditional meadows and centuries-old hedgerows with several pools and abundant wildlife. Spring brings a show of cowslip, bluebell and lady’s smock before the rush of orchids in May and June. Swathes of flowers including bugle and knapweed appear in summer with dyer’s greenweed thriving on the sloping northern fields. In late summer the harebells flower before autumn crocus steal the show.

The Visitor Centre was officially opened on Saturday 3rd July, National Meadows Day, with a celebratory exhibition curated by Marion Campbell (Apple Store Gallery) and Richard Bavin (the Trust’s resident artist). The show is the culmination of two years’ work in response to Birches Farm by ten local artists and two poets, resulting in a striking and imaginative display of paintings, prints, etched glass and even a wearable Meadows coat created for the occasion! The opening included a wildlife walk, poetry workshop and pop up painting in the wet meadows. Made in the Marches gallery (Kington) joined in the celebrations and are now showing the art work as part of â€˜Into the Midsummer Meadows’ alongside paintings by members of MIND’s ArtSpace Project, see madeinthemarches.com for details.

The evocative poems by Amanda Attfield and Judy Dinnen have been brought together in a published book, Into the Meadows, with contributions from Marion Campbell, Patrick Mooney and Richard Bavin. The book was made possible by a My Place grant supported by The Elmley Foundation which also enabled a copy to be donated to every secondary and special school in Herefordshire. It was published with help from Glenn Storhaug of Five Seasons Press. 

We hope Into the Meadows will inspire everyone to enjoy and help protect our wildflower meadows for following generations. It is available from the Apple Store Gallery (Hereford), Herefordshire Wildlife Trust’s Queenswood Shop and Made in the Marches gallery (Kington) priced at Â£10, with all proceeds shared equally between the Trust and Framework Herefordshire which supports young and emerging artists.

National Meadows Day is an annual event to celebrate these wonderful habitats. We have lost over 97% of our wildflower meadows across the UK since the Second World War and Birches Farm stands as a beacon for what is possible. Much is being done to restore and extend what we still have in the county by the Trust and by other organisations including Herefordshire Meadows (herefordshiremeadows.org.uk). Becoming a Wildlife Trust member is one way you can help with this vital work.

Birches Farm reserve is open all year round with free parking on site. The light and spacious visitor centre is equipped with hanging rails for exhibitions, kitchenette, toilet and patio. The space can be hired for meetings, events and exhibitions and is available for educational visits. 

To find out more about the Trust’s work or use of the Visitor Centre contact Frances Weeks: f.weeks@herefordshirewt.co.uk