News from Therfield Heath Conservation – May Pasque Flowers

This time last year we were celebrating the coronation of King Charles III and had an extra bank holiday. We have since had regular weekly volunteer groups working through what has been the wettest winter on record with over 150mm (6 inches) of rain by the end of February. In a normal year we get 450mm (18 inches) and already by the end of April this has reached 214mm.

It was also a warm winter and the most obvious change we saw was the first Pulsatilla Vulgaris in mid February which concerned us. The good news is we have had possibly the best carpet covering of the Pasque Flower since records started and have new areas where we are monitoring its success. We have also had record numbers of phone calls asking if the flower is out and people travelling from over fifty miles to visit. This is great news considering we did not have sheep grazing last autumn.

If you didn’t walk across to Church Hill last month then you probably missed the Pasqueflower, Pulsatilla vulgaris, flowering in profusion. Some will probably still be there this month so it’s still worth a look.

The downside to mechanical cutting that we have to do each winter is that we have to bring large machinery on to the site during the wet winter and this in turn has caused us to create ruts in some of the heavier trodden areas across the SSSI and the paths have become very wide where everyone walking attempts to avoid the surface water.

With the sun out the ground is getting warmer and the grasses have burst into life with vigour and we continue with summer cutting on the non SSSI areas and the popular area around the Heath cafe. Stand a while and you will hear the Skylarks and Meadow Pipits in full voice above your head and in the longer grasses.

The popularity of Therfield Heath means we continue to fight against the battle of litter, however we would like to thank people for generally being good and taking most of it away to dispose of at home. The Friends monthly litter pick and McDonalds regular sweep of the New Road car park really helps, and we are asking for people to look out for fly tipping including bags of commercial dog waste that are being left by our dog bins near the main car park, which we have reported to NHC.

With the climate changing, wetter winters are followed by warmer and drier summers and like last year we introduced fire warning signs. You will shortly see these signs on gates and we ask that you all be vigilant. No naked flames or dropped cigarette butts and especially no barbecues. This is becoming an increasing concern due to the latent heat that remains in the ground after the BBQ has been removed for many hours after you have left, when the slightest spark could start a ground fire across very dry grass.

Finally you will have noticed one or two benches have disappeared. They have gone away to be refurbished and will be replaced with a memorial plaque from donations. If you would like a memorial on a bench then please contact us at the address below. More on this next month.

With 420 acres of grassland to improve and protect, help is always appreciated.
Please come and try volunteering. Email

The Conservators of Therfield Heath and Greens –