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     Jewels Beyond the Plough - A Celebration of Britain's Grasslands

Title: Jewels Beyond the Plough       

(A Celebration of Britain's Grasslands)

Author: Richard Jefferson

Illustrated by: John Davis

Foreword: Chris Packham

ISBN: 9781904078418

Number of pages: 168

Size: 310 x 206mm


Price: £38.00



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With a foreword by Chris Packham, this book is a celebration of Britainís wildflower grasslands. The illustrations capture the beauty of grassland landscapes with their rich flora and fauna. A quick glance shows the remarkable range of plants and animals associated with wildflower grasslands. Orchids, cowslips, buttercups, fritillaries, pasque flowers, curlews, lapwings, butterflies, grasshoppers, waxcap fungi, mosses and lichens all feature prominently.


It is hoped that this book will provide an inspiration and raise awareness of the beauty and value to society of our wildflower-rich grasslands.


This book concentrates on and celebrates Britainís semi-natural or wildflower grasslands which are made up of unsown, wild native plants. Two other types of grassland that are semi improved have been included in the book as they have significant wildlife or heritage value. These are coastal and flood plain grazing marsh, and water meadows.


'The book certainly fulfils its brief as a celebration. John Davis's paintings fill almost every spread, with sumptuous landscapes from the machair of the Outer Hebrides to the rolling South Downs of his home county of Sussex. His great talent is for capturing the texture, colour and solidity of landscapes. His grasslands are ones that you feel you can walk
through. His skies are full of birds and insects, creating a great sense of joie de vivre.

Richard Jefferson's succinct text provides an excellent introduction to our wildlife-rich grasslands, describing
the various types and their origins. At the back of the book is a useful section with a map, listing a selection
of nature reserves which contain areas of semi-natural grassland, together with their type. One can't help
but think that 50 years ago the listing would have been to regions, rather than isolated nature reserves.
An intriguing glossary of grassland names and terms completes the book . Did you know, for example, that a
'pightle' is a small field, or that a 'pleck' is a local name in the Wyre Forest for a very small meadow?
Jefferson points out in his introduction how difficult it is to conserve these landscapes as, to many people,
unless you start to look more closely, most agriculturally improved grasslands appear little different to a species rich
hay meadow or pasture. Let us hope the bustling scenes, full of colour and life, which John Davis has portrayed will help to change people's perceptions about this most British of habitats.'



Andrew Branson  October 2012 British Wildlife Magazine



'..the magnificent illustrations whose impact is instantaneous and impressive...simply breathtaking. The secret of the fascinating text is not that it is so well written and easy to read but the fact that there is an underlying and important conservation message. This covers partly the rich and vital conservation value of grasslands but also the way in which they have gone or been drastically reduced by man, in so many areas.

The introduction over such conservation issues is dealt with in sections at the beginning of the book and are amongst the best summaries I have read for a long time...The book is thoroughly recommended.'

Ray Collier      Highland News  Nov 15 2012