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Since ancient times, until comparatively recently, meadows could be seen throughout this country; indeed, they formed part of the rich pattern of the English countryside, and influenced not only its landscape, but also its history, customs and traditions, and the cyclical nature of life in rural districts. Though we have lost 97 per cent of our meadows since the 1930s, they remain one of our last natural habitats, a colourful refuge for some of our prettiest – and sometimes rarest – wild flowers, and they harbour an enormous variety of wildlife.
In this timely book, John Feltwell explores the variety of meadow habitats, both natural and man-made, in the United Kingdom, Europe and the USA, investigating the loss of wild flowers and invertebrates and species-rich meadows that have already disappeared from much of the countryside. He describes cornfields and water meadows, spring and summer pastures, downs and dunes, wayside meadows, glades, and finally alpine meadows, now so threatened by massive tourism in the Alps. He discusses the traditions of haymaking and looks at the crafts and social and rural traditions which grew up around the use of meadows, as well as presenting suggestions for the recreation of new meadow habitats.
A highly readable and absorbing exploration of the history and natural history of meadows, Meadows: A History and Natural History is illustrated with 130 pictures in colour and black and white, including photographs of many rare and protected species. Meadows documents in detail just how we have come to lose so much of one of our most precious natural habitats, mostly through neglect, and makes a powerful plea for the conservation of the few flowering meadows that are still left. It will be read with interest by all who share John Feltwell's commitment to the preservation of the countryside.