Rathfinney’s Farm, Alfriston

Field meeting reports
Picture of Chaenorrhinum minus (Small Toadflax)
Chaenorrhinum minus (Small Toadflax). Photo: Brad Scott

Meeting date: 2 July 2016

(Leader: Peter Smith)

July 2nd proved to be a very windy day and eight hardy souls repaired to the Rathfinney winery.  However, not a drop of the local fizz was consumed all day. The newly established winery has been created with considerable input from ecological consultants and a strong commitment to care for the downland landscape in which it is located. While the south-facing slopes are now extensively planted with grapevines, the valley bottom has been designated for reversion from arable to native flora. The scarp is to be retained in its present form. Within and around the vineyard slopes we found Geranium columbinum (Long-stalked Crane’s-bill), Linum bienne (Pale Flax), Trifolium hybridum (Alsike Clover) and Chaenorrhinum minus (Small Toadflax) in a seeded area. The arable reversion zone has some way to go before downland species become established, but we noted Origanum vulgare (Marjoram), Euphrasia nemorosa (Eyebright), Filipendula vulgaris (Dropwort), and Brachypodium pinnatum (Tor Grass).

Picture of Rathfinney's Farm, Alfriston
The vineyard from the downland slope. Photo: Brad Scott

On the downland slope we found Centaurea scabiosa (Greater Knapweed), Arabis hirsuta (Hairy Rock-cress), Phyteuma orbiculare (Round-headed Rampion) and Anacamptis pyramidalis (Pyramidal Orchid). Overall we were able to record 181 species within the section of the extensive estate that we had time to monitor.

Picture of Carduus nutans (Musk Thistle)
Carduus nutans (Musk Thistle). Photo: Brad Scott
Picture of botanists at Alfriston
Exploring the arable reversion zone. Photo: Brad Scott