In pictures: Shire horses harvest wildflower meadow at King’s College, Cambridge
Two majestic Shire horses were out harvesting on the wildflower meadow at King’s College in Cambridge on Monday (August 14).
Named Cosmo and Bryn, these beautiful animals appeared on the magnificent wildflower meadow at King’s College helping to cut the grass, which has replaced the college’s famous neatly-manicured lawn.
This is the third harvest with the Shire horses.
Steve Coghill, head gardener at King’s, said: “It was a really good day; we were worried about the weather but the rain held off – and then the sun came out.
“We had lots of garden teams out, we had a lot of people coming over and seeing the horses work. And the meadow’s been cut – this is the fourth time it’s been cut in its short existence and it was a lovely day.”
Steve notes that it’s now become a tradition, adding: “The worth of the meadow is very clear now. Dr Cicely Marshall, one of our research botanists, published an academic paper earlier in the year which indicated the fact that the meadow was so good from the point of view of biodiversity and sustainability, that why would you not want to have a meadow?
“Not only is it aesthetically pleasing, it’s very attractive, and it’s a lot lower on carbon than if we were having to mow it regularly with a mower.
“Also it’s the wildlife value – there’s 25 times more invertebrate life in the meadow than there is on the lawn, and of course if you’re going to have healthy ecosystems, healthy habitats, you need lots of bugs and creepy-crawlies right at the bottom of the pyramid in order to feed all the things that are further up the line.
“There’s four times more plant activity going on in terms of species, richness, you’re four times more likely to find bats flying over the meadow, so having a combination of wildflower meadows plus the short lawns that we need to show off our architecture seems to be working for us.”
The hay was turned on Tuesday using an early 20th-century horse-pulled tedder, and carting took place on Wednesday using an old haywain.