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Meadows, the second volume of a major new series of books on British natural history, provides one of the most wide-ranging and eloquent treatments of this most quintessential British habitat. Despite their place in our affections, these flower-rich hay meadows that have inspired writers and artists for hundreds of years have almost disappeared from our countryside. In this exceptional work, George Peterken, one of our most respected ecologists, brings together years of research and discovery from his travels across Britain and Europe, as well as an understanding borne out of caring for his own meadows, to produce a book that will put this often misunderstood habitat back in the public’s eye. Filled with beautiful images of meadows and their denizens, this is a book everyone with an interest in this iconic habitat will want to own.
- Introducing meadows
- The meadow flora
- Classification and variety of meadows
- Making hay the traditional way
- The geography of traditional meadows
- Improving meadows
- Change in the meadows
- European meadows
- Translocating meadows to the colonies
- Birds, bees, butterflies and other fauna
- Meadows in the mind
- Loss and survival
- Looking forward
George Peterken is a woodland ecologist. First at the Nature Conservancy and then as part of the Chief Scientist's team in the Nature Conservancy Council, he led the development of national surveys of woodland and their management for nature conservation. Author of Woodland Conservation and Management and Natural Woodlands, he moved to the Lower Wye Valley some twenty years ago and subsequently wrote Wye Valley (New Naturalist). There, he found himself the owner of eight tiny meadows, founded the Parish Grassland Project and has helped other community grassland conservation initiatives.
"[...] This is a beautifully written book and a worthy second volume in the series. George Peterken, the author, writes thoroughly and well. Perhaps, for me though, a little too thoroughly. Whilst I read the first volume (Mushrooms, by Peter Marren) word for word from beginning to end, I found this one more a book to dip into rather than read from end to end. I look forward very much to the next title, which is due to be on Rivers. This series of books cannot help but draw parallels with Collins New Naturalists, but if the future ones continue with the same level of quality of writing and illustrations they will stand up to those comparisons and continue to demand space on our bookshelves."
– Su Gough, BTO book reviews
"[...] The other is the publication of an exceptional book, Meadows, by George Peterken (British Wildlife Publishing). This is a proper, scientific treatise by one of Britain’s leading ecologists, but it is so well written and so spectacularly-illustrated (there are more than 250 colour photographs) that it is accessible to the general reader.
More than that, it marks a milestone, for Peterken does something new: he gives our wildflower-rich hay meadows their detailed due, for the first time, as one of the most marvellous habitats the countryside has ever contained, and by doing so he plugs a major gap in our knowledge of the British landscape.
He not only sets out the history and geography, as well as the breathtaking flora of our meadows, he also gives a vivid picture of their cultural significance, especially in an inspiring chapter entitled “Meadows in the mind”, which is in essence a cultural history of haymaking, and of the significance, down the centuries, of flower-rich meadows in art.
They vanished while we were looking the other way. It was a cultural calamity. But George Peterken’s detailing of what they meant to so many generations is a singular service to perform – it gives us a true sense of the scale of what has been lost, and it gives us also the hope that, now we understand what they’re worth, some of these exquisite habitats at last may be restored."
– Mike McCarthy, the Independent, 12-06-2013