Country Corner - The grass is certainly greener for this job

Taking a closer look at local plant life is vital in knowing your environment.
Taking a closer look at local plant life is vital in knowing your environment.

It’s botany time again, writes George Hogg (Hogg Estate Services).

My old foldable, one metre square cane frame has been fetched from the attic.

Most of my vegetation surveying is carried out to monitor the effect of conservation strimming.

The idea of creating plots of low vegetation among rough grassland is to create diversity of habitat, which in turn adds to diversity of plantlife.

Varied plantlife, of course, supports a greater range of insects, and therefore also birds and other animals.

That is all very well in theory, but without someone actually getting on their knees and identifying the plants within and outwith the strimmed plots, it is impossible to know whether you are doing good or even harm.

That someone for the next wee while will be yours truly.

Fortunately, there are specific one metre quadrats to be surveyed by placing the frame down around each one.

Unfortunately, to ensure the exact same quadrats are surveyed every year, those quadrats have to be relocated every time.

This is done by measuring from a fixed corner post in each strimmed plot.

And it is very important to be precise with the measurements.

If there are suddenly several plant species in the quadrant which weren’t there the year before, it is because you have got the measuring wrong and placed your frame in the wrong place.

That’s the kind of mistake you only make once or twice before learning to take great care.

As if that wasn’t tricky enough, many of the plants will not be in flower, so there are no shortcuts to identifying them.

Having said all that, I wouldn’t swap my kneeling, peering, scibbling and head scratching for any other job in any more conventional “office”!

Sore knees or not.