Kingston Cemetery, which was formerly Bonner Hill cemetery, was established as a cemetery in 1855 on a site known as Bonner Hill Fields. A side effect of the site being set aside for burial is that it has become a horticultural time capsule. The existing meadow has had very little done to it to improve it’s condition. No fertilisers have been added and the most that has happened is a regular mowing regime. The result of this marvellous situation was revealed to the Kingston Cemetery Nature group by Alison Fure, director of the Kingston Environment Centre, when she took us round to look at the wildflowers in the old part of the cemetery.

 

Meadow Vetchling Lathyrus pratensis (cc M Pacheco)

As people may be aware the older part of the cemetery is being managed as a conservation space now as most of the graves no longer have people visiting them. One of the features of the conservation zone is that the grass is being allowed to grow longer, and this has revealed a treasure trove of ancient meadow plants. During our meandering walk along the paths we found so many meadow wildflowers that I lost count. You don’t tend to see much when you’re just strolling past, but if you stop to take a closer look you’ll find such beauties as speedwell, self-heal, herb robert, black medic, red clover and stonecrop, to name but a few, there is also a wide diversity of grasses and a few sedges. So all in all a remarkable time capsule of what we used to have in the meadows of Kingston and a wildlife heritage worth protecting.

 

Local ecologist Alison Fure leading a wildflower walk in the cemetery (cc M. Pacheco) 

 

With that in mind the Kingston Cemetery Nature group will be managing the site to optimise conditions for these precious meadow plants to encourage their growth and spread. We will be using traditional methods and times of year to maintain the meadow, which will include scything the long grass areas and then raking off the cuttings to encourage the flowering plants, and cut back some of the vigour of the grasses. If you are interested in joining the group, for a one off session or on a regular basis, please get in touch with me at marina@kingstoneco.org.uk or turn up at the cemetery on any of our work days in old clothes  - as we tend to really get stuck in. We always meet on the third Saturday of the month from 10am to 1 pm (biscuits and juice is provided).

 Selfheal Prunella vulgaris (cc M. Pacheco)