Ramblings from Finemere Wood

Charlotte Karmali brings the latest news from the volunteers at Finemere Wood.

The Finemere Wood volunteers were out on the hottest day of the year as the annual cutting of all things grassy began.

Along the rides and in the meadows, grasses reach thigh height as they approach the end of their flowering period. Most flowers, too, are moving on from their days of glorious beauty to the important task of seed development and dispersal.

It is now that these grassy areas are cut, to prevent the encroachment of scrub and to keep competitive plants under control. The result is a diverse array of delicate wild flowers. This is what we see in Finemere Wood, as, year on year, the flowers are are more varied and more plentiful.


Betony (Stachys officinalis), with its striking magenta flowerhead and its narrow toothed leaves, is one such species whose population has boomed this year. In Long Close Meadow in the centre of the wood, several large clumps can be seen of this stunning flower.

Belonging to the dead nettle family, betony can grow to 60cm tall, flowering from late June through to October. Damp meadows and open woodlands that are managed with cutting or grazing are an ideal habitat for Stachys officinalis.

Historically important for its medicinal properties, betony has been used by herbalists as a cure for many conditions, from headaches through to drunkenness. It was often planted in churchyards in the belief that it would ward off ghosts and unwelcome spirits.


Pouring with sweat, volunteers toiled away with brushcutters, scythes and rakes: cutting and clearing paths and woodland rides, meadows, and drovers tracks. The tractor, driven by our overseer, Pete Bray, BBOWT's Reserves Officer for North Bucks, was out mowing too.

The air-conditioned cab provided respite from the relentless heat for those who were melting. This was particularly welcomed by my young teenage son, who was somewhat bewildered to find himself slaving away in the fields in record temperatures. My nephew, an older teenager, battled on nobly, despite the adverse conditions.

As the end of August approaches, all that must be cut has been cut. The volunteers have worked hard and tirelessly.

Finemere Wood will benefit greatly from this yearly frenzy as it becomes ever more dazzling with sensational, abundant floral displays.

Come and join the Finemere Wood volunteers. Everyone's welcome and no experience is necessary!

Email Charlotte for further information

Next work party dates: Thursday 12 September, Thursday 26 September, Thursday 10 October, Thursday 24 October, all 9.30am-3pm.


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